Hospice and Palliative Care: Nursing Roles

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“Persons intentionally choose to become nurses to help patients meet their health needs,” even when the patient is actively dying. (Wu & Volker, 2012) Hospice nursing and palliative care nursing are both considered end of life care. However, hospice nursing is typically given to patients with a terminal illness and who have less than six months to live. Palliative care is typically given to patients with a life threatening illness, and is used to increase the patient’s quality of life. Choosing a nursing career in either hospice or palliative care can be extremely difficult, but will provide an opportunity for great personal growth. At times, an end-of-life caregiver may feel responsible for their patient’s death, or they may feel isolated due to a lack of support. Nurses new to this field should “feel that their unit acknowledges death as a difficult event and that discussion of death is acceptable in the workplace.” (Lewis, 2013) The most rewarding, and also most difficult, part of being a hospice or palliative care nurse is the ability to be a part of your patient and their family’s life, including their loss, grief, and death. (Wu & Volker, 2012)
End-of-life Nursing Role and Responsibilities
The end-of-life nurse’s primary objective is to provide comfort and compassion to patients and their families during an extremely difficult time. They must satisfy all “physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual needs” of the patient and their family. (Wu & Volker, 2012) The nurse involves their patient in care planning, as well as educating them about the options available. They must follow the wishes of the patient and their family, as provided in the patient’s advance directive if there is one available. It is i...

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