Hospice Nurse

Hospice Nurse

TranquilityRN

Tuscumbia, AL

Female, 40

I have been a hospice Registered Nurse for about ten years. Hospice is similar to home health except specializing in care of the terminally ill, dying patient. A hospice nurse provides palliative care for the patient during their last months, weeks, days, or hours so they may pass in the comfort of their home and with their loved ones present. I provide comfort and dignity for the the patient and comfort for the caregiver. Following the peaceful passing of the patient I provide postmortem.

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Last Answer on March 26, 2014

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Do you think some patients can decide "when they're ready?" For example, a patient waiting for the birth of a grandchild before allowing himself to pass.

Asked by brokenarrow over 8 years ago

Yes they can and do. I have had patients wait for soldiers to arrive from over seas and wait for family to arrive in town. Absolutely and it never stops amazing me!

How long can the human body survive without food? My grandmother stopped eating completely shortly before her passing and was too weak for even an IV, but the doctor said that patients can go on for weeks sometimes.

Asked by Angelika over 8 years ago

Normally a couple weeks, BUT when the person stops eating and drinking completely usually death occurs within 72 hours.  And i discourage IVs when death is inevitable also.  Families that are not well educated think the loved one is dehydrated, which they are, but think they are suffering.  Once the patient gets to a certain point they do not feel the urge for food and drink.  IVs simply prolong the inevitable death that is to occur dragging out the dying process and it makes the brain more aware of pain and discomfort.  If a family insist of course we have to do it but we educate educate educate to discourage and allow the body to die a natural death.

Have you noticed any difference is the outlook on death between different cultures? Like are there some families of a certain culture that seem to just deal with death "better" or in a more uplifting way than other cultures?

Asked by jason e. over 8 years ago

Well sorry to just now answer your question but I have been battling MS and Narcolepsy myself. Honestly it is just a matter of people that are not afraid of death or when they finally get to what is referred to as the acceptance stage and they see death is inevitable.  However, my personal opinion, I have noticed that people who have a strong religious lifestyle, regardless of the religion, seem to deal with death in a more positive way, therefore, their families seem to cope with the passing with more ease. Also children for some reason are so resilient and seem to cope with inevitable death with a better perception than most adults.  Hope this answers your question.

what is it easy for you to get a job after graduating?

Asked by Jessica Aguirre over 8 years ago

Extremely easy to obtain RN jobs.  Hospice is a little more difficult, depending on how many companies you have in your area.  Also I said in the previous question it is truly a calling.  Just any nurse cannot just apply to hospice because they want an RN job and successfully succeed rather the reasons be that they just cannot grasp the concept and philospophy due to nurses being geared towards nurturing and healing and sending a well patient home and with hospice that is never the case. Or the nurse is "simply" not called to do this profession.

How long will someone last without food and water in a coma from an aneurysm in may. Off feeding tube for 7 days now. Only 61 yr. No fluids and breathing on her own with a trac

Asked by SK about 8 years ago

I am so sorry for this delay.  I have been dealing with MS. You may not even need an answer to this question.  As crazy as it sounds this varies for each patient.  Just as we are all born differently, some easy births, some difficult, some come into the world screaming, some never cry, we also die uniquely. For instance, in this case, pending this person has no fluids, as you stated, no feedings running, and not even minimal sips of fluids, normally they survive up to two weeks or so.  Without any type fluids, food, etc normally death will occur within 72 hours.  However, in my experiences with hundreds and hundreds of patients, it depends.  It depends on the persons will to live, like a mother having fear of leaving her children.  A father not wanting to leave his children but much more not wanting to leave behind the wife who never worked and stayed home rearing the family.  Mothers of small children seem to fight death to a point that has amazed me and it goes way beyond any type of education and experience I have ever recieved.  Also people with very stubborn personalities and very strong willed people tend to survive longer.  So sorry for the delay hope this helps.

Do you keep any pets at your hospice facility? Have you heard the stories about how some cats or dogs are able to predict a patient's death even before it happens?

Asked by Julia over 8 years ago

No we did not keep pets.  However, there is a place locally called Therapy Dogs and they will visit if you call.  And yes I have heard it and I do believe it.  I have had multiple patients with pets and I do believe they sense death.  Also some pets I have noticed are very saddened with the passing of a patient and will not leave the bedside until the funeral home picks the patient up.  I had one young man and he had a giant dog.  the dog had laid in the floor in the patient's room for two days until he passed.  Last time I spoke to the patient's mother the dog spent and spends alot of time in the patient's room.  Animals have a very keen sense of illness and dying before most humand. Howver usually a hospice nurse in trained to somewhat predict the death as well but the animals are normally very aware.

I imagine hospice to be a pretty depressing environment to be in every day. Do you ever leave really upbeat or is it always a downer?

Asked by dday13 over 8 years ago

Well both honestly.  yIts very easy to get cauht up and become very involved with your patient and their families.  It does have a very profound effect on the psyche.  It is truly a calling.  That is why I am so proud to have been involved in such a profession.  I know I am a nurse but all nurses have a calling.  You have bad nurses and great nurses.  The difference is the ones that truly seek their calling and do THAT as their career are the BETTER nurses per say.  Not just anyone can do hospice.  The fact that it is a calling, in my opinion, is what makes us resilient and able to rebound and turn sadness into such a profound feeling of gratification for helping your patient and being the support and educator for their loved ones that you do have a sense of fulfillment.  It is hard to explain but YES it gets depressing.  I had to break from it temporarily after four years of strictly seven on and seven off on call duty.  It became hard for me because naturally as a nurse your job is to nurture and heal, thats why most get into the profession anyway.  As a hospice provider your not healing and sending a well patient home.  You know from the day of admission that you will lose your patient.  Our job is to make them comfortable until inevitable death occurs.  And as only a oncall RN you are the rescue in the middle of the night, weekend, and holidays, which was so very rewarding but at the same time not many "good calls" or "good visits" occur during those hours.  So I missed the daily, weekly visits and bonding with the patients and the families and was only getting to deal with the death part of the process. Very sad at times.