UCLAH’s skilled nursing workers help hospice patients during end-of-life care. Nurses do a variety of tasks, including wound care, therapy, and giving medicine.
Skilled Nursing in Home Hospice
Every member of a hospice team is a compassionate and dedicated provider of care and other services to terminally ill patients and their families. Physicians, social workers, aides, chaplains; everyone who works in hospice care will deliver their services with gentleness and professional competence. But most people think of nurses as being the most compassionate and dedicated health care workers. Hospice care is no exception. From the moment of admission to the patient’s last day, skilled nursing providers will be there with the family, providing their unwavering support and expert competence in caring for the patient.
Unique Care Los Angeles Hospice’s nurses perform many roles in the course of their work. In the course of her duties, she will
- Provide direct care to patients by monitoring vital signs, administering medicine, and caring for injuries.
- Support the emotional health of patients.
- Manage communication between the other hospice workers and families.
- Educate and emotionally support family caregivers.
- Do much, much else to provide complete care for the patient.
They perform so many roles and do so many tasks for their patients, and they also look after the emotional health of grieving families. Any description of their work will necessarily be brief and incomplete.
Setting a Plan in Motion
Every person is different: there are no one-size-fits-all solutions in health care. Hospice care is no different. Every terminally ill patient will have different needs and capabilities. For that reason, one of the first duties of the hospice nurse is to prepare a patient care plan. This plan will list in detail just about everything that can be known about the patient:
- Height, weight, blood pressure, and other vital statistics.
- Medical history.
- The diagnosis and the treatment plan.
- The patient’s wishes regarding pain management and advanced directives.
- The other health care workers needed and their treatments.
- Recommendations for improved emotional health.
But terminal illness is not a static event. As the illness progresses, the patient’s needs will change. For that reason, our nurse will monitor the patient closely. Any changes to the patient will necessitate changes to the care plan as well. She will then ensure that all the other caregivers know of changes to plans, who can then adapt their services to better care for the patient.
Helping the Patient
Making a detailed care plan is only the beginning, and our nurses provide plenty of hands-on care for patients. This can involve
As mentioned above, they are frequent visitors to hospice homes. For that reason, strong bonds often form between our nurses and patients. Patients come to trust them, viewing them as friends and confidants. Even the mere presence of a nurse during a routine visit can lighten a patient’s mood, quelling anxiety and depression.
Hospice means that patients must receive quality care right up until the end of life. For that reason, UCLAH nurses are often right beside the patient during her last moments, making sure the patient’s departure is as comfortable as possible.
Skilled nursing in hospice care involves more than just taking care of the patients. Family members have their own needs as well. Our nurse will be the first point of contact for the patient’s family among the hospice team. For that reason, she will serve as family educator, ensuring the family knows how to best take care of the ill family member:
- What to do when they notice a change in the patient.
- How to help the patient during a crisis.
- What the patient’s medicine is and how to administer it.
- How to help the patient with physical and occupational therapy.
- How to help the patient in other day-to-day tasks.
If the family cannot solve an urgent problem, give us a call. If the problem cannot be solved over the phone, we’ll schedule an extra visit as soon as possible.
As the terminal illness progresses, different specialists, such as physical therapists and speech therapists, may be brought into the mix to further help the patient. Nurses will frequently host team-wide collaboration with all professional caregivers, ensuring that the health care plan is being implemented properly and the patient is experiencing the best possible quality of life.
They also teach the family what the patient is going through as his illness progresses and how his needs might change. As frequent visitors to the home, they will become familiar with family caregivers, and will no doubt notice any growing anxiety or grief as the patient slips further into decline. In these cases, they often provide a compassionate shoulder to cry on or a safe place to vent frustrations.
Special Considerations for Nursing in Hospice Care
The needs of terminally ill patients and their families present unique challenges that are not found in other fields of health care. They all need exceptional skills and training, but UCLAH’s nurses have strong soft skills as well.
- Critical thinking: Creating the patient’s health care plan will demand a great deal of thoughtfulness and attention to detail. Additionally, they must be able to react swiftly during crises. When a difficult problem occurs with a patient, most likely it will be her who will have to fix it. This demands clarity of thought even in times of turmoil.
- Compassion: Terminal illness will affect each patient and family member differently. Some will rage, some will brood, some will weep uncontrollably, some will accept fate with evenness of feeling, even good cheer. No matter what strong emotions may be about, they must be able to connect with family and patients to provide the best possible care.
- Communication: They are often the first health care provider a family member will turn to in a difficult situation, and she must be prepared to reassure exhausted people. She must also liaise with other hospice team members to ensure that the health care plan is being followed.
- Caring for self: No medical professional is immune to burnout, but at least most medical fields carry a possibility of patient recovery. Not so in hospice. Treating terminally ill patients, not to mention compassionately engaging with enraged or teary-eyed family members, inevitably takes a toll on the mental and physical health of our nurses. If she’s burned out or jaded, she cannot provide the best possible care, so they must know how to take care of themselves.