What is the role of the hospice nurse?

The role of a hospice nurse is multifaceted, encompassing various aspects of patient care, support, and advocacy during the final stages of life. A hospice nurse is responsible for:

  1. Assessment and Care Planning:
    • Conducting thorough assessments to understand the patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
    • Collaborating with the interdisciplinary team to develop a comprehensive care plan tailored to the individual’s preferences and goals.
  2. Symptom Management:
    • Providing expertise in managing pain and other symptoms associated with the terminal illness to enhance the patient’s comfort and quality of life.
  3. Patient and Family Education:
    • Offering guidance and education to patients and their families about the progression of the illness, treatment options, and the role of hospice care.
  4. Emotional Support:
    • Addressing the emotional and psychosocial needs of patients and their families through active listening, counseling, and facilitating access to additional support services.
  5. Coordination of Care:
    • Serving as a liaison between the patient, family, and the interdisciplinary hospice team to ensure seamless communication and coordination of care.
  6. Advocacy:
    • Advocating for the patient’s wishes and ensuring their voice is heard in the decision-making process, respecting their autonomy and preferences.
  7. End-of-Life Planning:
    • Assisting with advance care planning, including discussions about goals of care, resuscitation preferences, and ensuring that the patient’s wishes are documented and respected.
  8. Comfort Care:
    • Implementing comfort care measures that align with the patient’s values, promoting a peaceful and dignified end-of-life experience.
  9. Bereavement Support:
    • Providing support to family members and caregivers during the grieving process, offering resources and counseling to help them cope with the loss.
  10. Continuous Assessment:
    • Conducting ongoing assessments to adapt the care plan based on changes in the patient’s condition, ensuring responsive and personalized care until the end of life.

In essence, the hospice nurse serves as a compassionate guide and advocate, working collaboratively with the patient, their family, and the hospice team to ensure that the individual’s final days are characterized by comfort, dignity, and a sense of peace.

Understanding Hospice

Last week, we gave a 24-question quiz to test your knowledge of hospice. What we have found is that there are many misconceptions of hospice, what it is, what it is designed to do, and when to pursue it. So, let’s dig into the questions together. As always, feel free to send follow-up questions to info@elitehhh.com

Hospice is a 24/7 service.

Hospice is provided on a 24/7 basis. That means patients and families on hospice can call at any time of day to speak with a nurse or have the nurse come out to the home to do a visit. Our goal is comfort. These issues do not always occur during a regular business day. That is why these are services designed to meet your needs…whenever that may happen.

Hospice is only for 6 months even if you continue to live beyond that time frame.

Hospice is a service designed to be initiated during the last 6 months of life. BUT, this is not an exact science, and patients are not beholden to the 6 months. Medicare guidelines dictate that hospice services are only to be stopped if the patient’s condition improves beyond a brief or temporary period that the life expectancy is now beyond 6 months. Hospice benefits do not expire, and patients can access these benefits if conditions change again, and they now qualify for hospice again.

Hospice is only for cancer patients.

Hospice is not contingent on a particular disease process, like cancer. In fact, many hospice patients have conditions related to heart and lung disease, dementia, kidney failure, neurological disease, and many other conditions. Hospice is not a cancer-specific service.

Hospice services are paid for by health insurance.

Hospice is covered by nearly all insurance plans. Medicare and Medicaid cover these services in nearly all 50 states. Coverage may vary state by state. Some things are not covered based on state benefits such as nutritional supplements and disposable supplies. Room and board at a nursing home and over the counter medications are typically not covered and are often paid out of pocket by the family or through a long-term care insurance plan.

Hospice services include comfort and grief support for families after the patient dies.

Hospice includes bereavement services. These services are provided for 13 months after the passing of a loved one. This may be one-on-one counseling, group sessions, or periodic phone calls. Bereavement is often extended to members of the public who interacted with the individual who passed as well.

Hospice can be provided in nursing homes.

Hospice can be provided in a residential setting. That means traditional homes/apartments/condominiums, nursing homes, and assisted living communities – including memory care facilities may all serve as locations for hospice.

Hospice is only appropriate if the person only has a few days to live.

Hospice is designed to be a gradual progression of increased care and support as symptoms change and the body changes. Most people find hospice is beneficial when the full range of skilled medical, emotional, and spiritual support services for provided for at least a month or longer.

Patients on hospice cannot receive care from spouses, partners, children or other loved ones.

Hospice supports the family and caregivers of the patient through education and partnership. Support for stress and identifying resources are often key elements of the hospice care plan. In most cases, family members provide the day-to-day patient care.

Hospice helps by speeding up the dying process.

Hospice does not speed up the dying process. At this point of the illness, no medical intervention can prolong or cure the terminal illness. Hospice is designed to support the quality of life by addressing symptoms and discomfort. Some studies suggest patients actually live longer on hospice than without the service.

Hospice cannot be provided in the home.

Over 66% of all hospice is provided in the home setting!

Only persons older than 65 can receive hospice.

Hospice is not constrained to age. Any person with a terminal diagnosis and expected to pass in 6 months is eligible for hospice, regardless of age.

Anyone can make a referral to hospice.

Anyone can initiate the process for a hospice review. Often, patients, family members, or caregivers reach out to hospice and ask if the service is appropriate. This usually starts a conversation with the patient’s provider (doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) to better understand the patient’s prognosis and goals. If hospice makes sense, the provider writes an order, and the hospice assessment occurs.

Lots of great information here. If there are questions, let us know. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. Email us at info@elitehhh.com