We usually think of hospice care as something that’s provided in a person’s private home. But did you know that hospice care can also be a very helpful addition to care received in a nursing home?
These are some of the ways I found the addition of hospice services to be very helpful when I worked as an RN in the nursing home:
- A hospice nurse is on-call 24/7. They are able to immediately initiate standing orders for symptom control. This means the resident often receives treatment more quickly than when a nurse needs to wait for a doctor to call back.
- Hospice staff provides education for residents, families, and nursing home staff on what they can expect during the dying process.
- The hospice program may be able to provide some medications and supplies at little or no cost to the resident.
- Volunteers provide extra companionship to residents.
- Hospice physicians and nurses receive specialized training in managing symptoms that may occur during the dying process. These include pain, nausea, anxiety, and shortness of breath.
- Bereavement staff provides follow-up with family and/or friends for a full year after their loved one dies.
- Home health aides provide extra direct care to the resident for needs such as meal assistance, bathing, or dressing.
- Hospice staff can spend extra time communicating with family members and answering questions.
- Chaplains are available to provide spiritual care in conjunction with the resident’s home place of worship.
- Social workers provide information on additional community services such as support groups or financial assistance.
- Hospice staff can provide extra support to the nursing home staff when a resident’s death is especially difficult.
If it appears that a resident may benefit from the addition of hospice care, a hospice nurse is called to come in to assess the resident. It’s best to initiate hospice care as early as possible. This allows time for the resident and their family to develop a comfortable, trusting relationship with the hospice team.
This post is a part of my “Did you know?” educational series. Other topics we’ve covered are:
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