“Hospice patients have so much to share. They are a living, breathing history. Their concerns, their dreams, and their stories are important.” -U.P. Hospice Nurse
The professional Hospice nurse has in-depth experience, education and training in evaluating and caring for the patient and their extended family. She is skilled at observing, listening, and communicating each patient’s unique needs and wishes. The Hospice nurse also has a unique ability for patience and sensitivity to be effective in times of high emotion. Her primary goal is to constantly assess and assure the comfort and wellbeing of the Hospice patient and their family.
The Hospice nurse advises the patient and family about what nursing care they can expect and about medications being provided in the home. She may also instruct family members how to adjust medications to ensure comfort and control pain.
Most important, the Hospice nurse is a teacher, helping patients and families learn to recognize important changes and signals that might indicate a new stage in the dying process:
- Increase in fatigue or weakness
- Increased weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- “Break through” pain
- More frequent nausea
- Difficulty swallowing
- Build-up of fluids (ascites)
- Deteriorating mental status
The Hospice nurse will visit regularly to evaluate symptoms and report significant changes to the Attending Physician. She is also responsible for supervising, teaching, and directing other members of the Hospice Team. If you identify services or care which the Hospice is not yet providing, your first step is to speak directly with your loved one’s RN case manager.