Hospice nurses have a special place within the spectrum of the nursing community, a fact that’s certainly appreciated by Cedar Rapids area residents who need this level of care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care offers patients the services of a variety of nurses with different skills. But even though some of these talented nurses may have different training, credentials or specialize in different areas of care, they all have the same commitment to assisting patients and their families.
Clients receiving hospice services are often going through a difficult time not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, so a nurse can help provide a good deal of support in many ways with direct care, communications with health care providers, access to other specialists and general interest in making someone’s life more comfortable.
Their families and any caregivers also may also benefit from any encouragement that nurses can offer, including education on what changes the patient might be going through and what to expect.
Celebrate nurses in May
Those who have worked closely with nurses in the past or those who are nurses themselves may tell you that the profession should be celebrated every day due to their collective commitment to the patients they work with and to fellow nurses.
If someone does have a nurse in their life, it is certainly nice to recognize their efforts anytime and let them know they are appreciated. Nursing can be a physically and emotionally demanding profession, and many put in long days, so it’s not hard for them to sometimes feel worn out and unappreciated.
But beyond individual recognition, there are other ways to salute favorite nurses.
May 6-12 is National Nurses Week, an opportunity for people around the U.S. to salute the role of nurses in our local communities and encourage others to join the profession. Those already in the nursing field can also use the week to draw attention to their profession, share some benefits of the profession, and invite more people to join their ranks.
The year’s week has the theme of “Nurses Inspire Innovate Influence” and can be thought of as an opportunity to let fellow nurses know about advancement opportunities, including ways to gain new certifications. These can lead to different responsibilities, different types of care, different positions or occupations, and in many cases, more money.
Various nursing groups celebrate the week, including the American Nurses Association, the American Holistic Nurses Association, the American Nurses Foundation, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and the American Nephrology Nursing Association.
Since the 1950s the celebration has taken place in May, since May 12 is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, a 19th-century British nurse who is considered the founder of modern nursing techniques. During England’s Crimean War in the 1850s, she championed several procedures that are still in use in the profession.
The industry began celebrating itself in 1954, which was the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s battlefield efforts during the Crimean War. U.S. President Reagan declared it an official national celebration.
Levels of care
Working with patients with terminal health care conditions can have some significant differences from other nursing career opportunities.
In general, traditional nurses work to help a patient get well. But hospice nurses focus on making them comfortable in their remaining time. NurseBuff, an industry site, describes it as “not to offer a complete recovery but ensure patients die peacefully and with integrity.”
Doing well requires drawing on skills from several areas of nursing with big ones being observation and communication.
Hospice nurses are tasked with watching a patient closely every time they visit, for various physical and mental changes. Though there are some predictable patterns of decline until death, every patient might be a little different in how and when they are shown.
Hospice patients may want or need more access to strong pain medication. Someone not receiving hospice care, however, may be encouraged to try something less effective for chronic pain but less addictive and offering less long-term concerns.
The communication aspect is also vital: nurses need to talk with family members and caregivers, the patient’s health care provider. They may talk with other health care professionals and therapists who may be brought in to help, such as a massage therapist or speech therapist.
Communication is especially important with the patient, who often will have questions and concerns about what they’re going through or even more philosophical/spiritual questions about what’s next. Certainly answering these kinds of profound questions goes beyond most nursing training, but they can help patients simply by being there and listening.
After all, while this is likely a patient’s first time going through this process, a hospice nurse might have much more familiarity with the process and can share any insights gained from past experiences.
Home health care can help
Above and Beyond Home Health Care works to ensure that all hospice nurses in the Cedar Rapids area offer quality care as well as compassion to their patients. Most nurses who choose to work with hospice patients not only have received extra training but other personal qualities that are helpful to patients and their families.