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  • Writer's pictureHospice of the Fisher Home

9 Things Every Successful Hospice Nurse Needs to Know

Updated: Jan 31

Hospice nurses play a pivotal role in providing specialized care to individuals nearing the end of life. They are an amazing kind of human.

nurse holding a stethoscope in heart shape

Hospice nurses's dedication and expertise are crucial in ensuring that patients experience comfort, dignity, and support during their final journey. There are certain tips and tricks that many hospice nurses learn along the way. 

From understanding the unique needs of terminally ill patients to mastering effective communication with both patients and their families, we’ve gathered together 9 things every hospice nurse needs to know.

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What Does “Successful Hospice Nurse” Mean?

Success, in hospice, is not measured in terms of money or people cured. It is measured in terms of comfort and ease at the end of life. A successful hospice nurse is one that makes people and their loved ones feel supported during a process that can be so difficult to navigate. 

powerful nurse standing tall

9 Things Every Successful Hospice Nurse Needs to Know

1 - They know to let the Patient and Family Drive the Care

A successful hospice nurse meets needs in an entirely different way than other kinds of nurses. This means not only taking the time to understand a patient and their family but letting them drive the care. The patient and family goals should always be met first! Of course, when signing onto at-home hospice care you will have some important tasks to complete. But, a hospice nurse knows to be mindful. 

Before a routine assessment, they know to listen to developments carefully from the last visit and they do not let problems go unaddressed. It is important to note that sometimes a patient or their loved ones just to let you know what is going on, but they do not always need a nurse to fix certain problems; they just need a listening ear. A hospice nurse always asks for desired outcomes and lets people and their loved ones drive the care

2 - They know the importance of communication

Communication is essential in any aspect of the medical field. But, as a hospice nurse, you need to approach communication with even more care. The topics that are discussed during end-of-life care are sometimes tough. A high level of communication skills is an integral part of being a hospice nurse. This means knowing how to start a conversation, knowing how to listen, and being empathic. 

3 - They understand the unique needs of hospice patients

Hospice patients are unique in what they need from a nurse. Because hospice does not focus on cures, hospice nurses have an entirely different set of goals during the caretaking process. A successful hospice nurse knows this and works accordingly!

4 - They know that they can rely on their team and aren’t afraid to ask for help

Behind every successful hospice nurse is a supportive team! Hospice nurses cannot do it all alone. This can be a hard lesson to learn if you are someone who has a difficult time asking for help. However, a hospice nurse bounces ideas off of their team and uses their communication skills to establish a great sense of teamwork. 

Black and white photograph of the 3rd floor operating theatre at King George Military Hospital, London, England
Source: National Library of Medicine

As much as a hospice nurse knows that they can rely on their team and ask for help, they also know what it takes to be a team player! Learn more about the Hospice of the Fisher Home team here.

5 - They know how to say no

Nurses, just like anyone in a field that revolves around helping people, have a tendency to neglect themselves. Of course, putting others first is part of the job. But, it can cause burnout if you do not learn to say no and set boundaries. Remember to practice self-care, take time off when you can, and always remember your why!

6 - They know the importance of comfortable shoes

Every part of you is important when you’re a nurse, especially your feet! In 2021, 43.7% of nurses reported ankle-foot pain. This is caused by standing and walking around for long hours, which is part of the job. That’s why a successful hospice nurse invests in supportive comfortable shoes. They also know that nursing shoes should be replaced twice a year so that they can keep taking care of their feet. 

7 - They know the equipment and how to use it

Nursing involves a lot of knowledge, and some of that involves using equipment. Successful hospice nurses know how to use equipment like:

  • Hospital beds

  • Catheters

  • Nebulizer

  • Feeding Pumps

  • Alternating air pressure mattress

  • Lifts

  • CPAP Machines

These are things that are used frequently. If you don’t know how to use them, just take every opportunity to learn about new equipment so that you can provide the best care possible. 

8 - They understand the importance of healthy detachment

Of course, as every hospice nurse knows, being empathic is so important. It helps provide wonderful end of life care. But, hospice nurses also need to maintain a healthy detachment so they do not get emotionally overwhelmed. A hospice nurse provides comfort to the dying and their loved ones and they may experience a sense of loss after losing a patient.

9 - They know what hospice truly is. 

Hospice is not like any other medical profession. It focuses on care for the terminally ill by increasing their quality of life for the time that they have left. The goal of hospice is not just to help mitigate pain or manage symptoms - it is to provide holistic end-of-life care for patients and their families.

A successful hospice nurse is someone who knows all of the things above and understands that they are learning every step of the way. Hospice nurses are truly one-of-a-kind!

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