Moments before death: Hospice Nursing

Holding Hands with Elderly PatientAs nurses, we are seen by others who save people’s lives. We care for them, treat them alongside with doctors and attend the patient’s needs. We are concerned of their health and well being. Our primary role is to promote health as well as prevent illness. But what do we do when our patient’s are moments away from death and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it? How do we deal with them knowing that their lives are about to end? Is caring for them still in our line of responsibility? Yes. It still is.

Getting to Know Hospice Nursing

Hospice nursing is a nursing sub-field on end of life, which primary purpose is to keep patients comfortable in their last days, as well as to provide family members with information about the patient’s condition focuses on the end of life care for patients and their families.

Some work in private homes, by which they can allow people to spend their last days in a familiar environment surrounded by family members and loved ones, while there are also others who work in hospitals, hospice facilities, and residential care facilities, as they care for patients who need a more institutionalized setting, as well as for people who feel more at ease in a hospice facility than a hospital. It can be tremendously stressful having the duty to work primarily with dying patients, however there are many people working in hospice nursing that testify that their field is also very personally rewarding.

What they do

  • Like other regular ward nurses, they also carry out many traditional nursing duties such as observing, assessing, and recording symptoms. They also work closely with physicians, administer medications, and provide emotional support. However, as they are caring for terminally ill patients, the medications that they give are mostly to alleviate their pain.

  • They basically act as home-care nurses and spend several hours a day with their patients in their homes, as well as become emotional caretakers. It is the terminally ill patients’ right to spend their last days in the comfort of their own homes, with their families, while hospice care provides specialized medical care but not limited to that as they also offer supportive social, emotional, and spiritual services.

  • They also manage the care of every hospice patient through an advising physician, provide direct patient care, appraise the patients’ conditions, and act as the liaison between families and physicians.

  • They may also work with a patient’s social worker, home-care aide, and physical, occupational, or speech therapist.

You have to have certain qualities as well as qualifications in order to be a good hospice nurse. You must be both an RN and a passer of an examination given by the National Board for the Certification of Hospice Nurses.

Being a hospice nurse is not the hardest thing to do, yet it isn’t also as easy as cake. Being one means having a strong heart, and being determined. Being weak hearted in jobs like this can result to aggravating the patients’ and folks’ grief and suffering as well as letting yourself to also suffer all along. Instead, by having a strong heart and getting your emotions checked, you may able to do well to help patients and families cope with the situation.



Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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