National Nurses Week is celebrated annually from May 6-12. In honor of this year’s Nurses Week theme, “Inspire, Innovate, Influence”, Unity Hospice is raising awareness of the important role of the hospice nurse.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “It takes a special person to be a hospice nurse,” that’s because it does indeed take a very special person.
Although many of us have an idea of what a nurse does, some of us may not be aware of the unique responsibilities of a hospice nurse. A hospice nurse cares for a patient during a most fundamental time in their life: When they are dying.
During this phase of a human life, clinical, spiritual and emotional care is provided by hospice, and a hospice nurse has the ability to support patients in each of these areas – beyond just medicine. There is no limit to the abilities of the hospice nurse.
There’s the primary goal of hospice nursing: To control pain and symptoms caused from a terminal illness. A hospice nurse is especially knowledgeable about how the body is interconnected, and how it operates at every stage. This knowledge enables them to consider medications and dosages that will enhance comfort and quality of life specific to each patient that they come in contact with.
There’s the educational side of a hospice nurse. Knowledge about end-of-life is not common sense. It comes with a specialized type of training that takes time, experience and patience. A hospice nurse excels in this type of training. And then, they share it with families to coach them on how to care for their loved one during this critical time.
As Unity Hospice of Western Illinois RN Mary Shaw states, “families are most grateful for the education, so they don’t have to worry if they’re caring for their loved one in the best way.”
There’s the emotional side of a hospice nurse. Often times this means offering a listening ear. Sometimes it means providing resources or bereavement to help with various emotions. But sometimes it could mean something as simple as a hand hold or warm embrace.
There’s the human side of a hospice nurse. Hospice nurses are afforded a better opportunity to build meaningful relationships with their patients and families, because of the time spent.
“In hospice, we really get to develop a trust and a foundation to really get to know each other on a deeper level. It’s a very special and powerful thing,” Taryn Gelin, RN at Unity Hospice of Chicagoland.
Unity Hospice of Northwest Indiana RN Latoya Joyce also sheds light on this part of the job. “I went into hospice to build a better personal connection with my patients,” Joyce explains. “In other health care settings, the opportunity to really get to know patients is not always there. Working in hospice, I try to learn as much as I can about the patient. It means a lot to them, but also to me,” Joyce concludes.
Unity Hospice of Western Illinois RN Raeanne Henry adds, “there’s one patient for whom I extend my visits, just because be benefits from my company.”
“What I’ve enjoyed most about working in hospice is all of the wonderful patients and families that I have had the pleasure of knowing and helping to care for,” expresses Christine Villalobos, RN at Unity Hospice of Greater St. Louis.
She reflects on one patient who, at the time, lived in a nursing home and had no family or friends around to visit her. The patient told Villalobos that she was her a friend now, because that’s all she knew.
A hospice nurse has the power to make a difference in the lives of people at end of life, and that is a uniquely profound opportunity.
“I’m thankful that they allow us to be a part of their family at this time,” concludes Villalobos.
Hospice nursing is very rewarding – not working a job, but living a purpose.
To learn more about nursing in hospice, and the impact that the role has on patients and families, feel free to contact Unity Hospice through our Contact Us form.
About Unity Hospice
Founded in 1992, Unity Hospice is a family owned and operated hospice and palliative care company committed to providing comprehensive care, support and education to people facing a life-limiting illness, those who care for them and the community. Unity Hospice offers care of the highest quality by licensed and competent staff in accordance with laws & regulations and accepted standards of practice. With the dedication to make their patients’ days comfortable, Unity Hospice provides an interdisciplinary approach to each individual and family, in which they go above and beyond everyday to meet their needs. More information can also be found on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.