Hospice nursing, also known as palliative nursing, is a specialty within the field of nursing that involves the care for terminally ill patients that are in a hospice setting. Hospice care is for patients in the final stages of life. Hospice nursing is holistic and covers all aspects of a patient’s health — physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual. Hospice nurses will work to provide pain relief and management and skilled, sensitive care to their patients.
Hospice nursing aims to provide the best possible quality of life for a patient during end-of-life treatment. A primary role of hospice nursing is protecting patients from unnecessary treatments that may be painful. Hospice nurses attempt to control symptoms, restore any functional capacities possible, and support the family in bereavement and education. They also must provide culturally sensitive care and have 24-hour nursing availability.
The hospice nursing setting is often in the home of the patient instead of the hospital. This allows for the patient to be more comfortable and spend as much time as desired with family and significant others. The hospice nursing setting may also include in-patient hospice units or other long-term care settings.
Most hospice care nursing is generalized, but some specialization is found, such as in pediatrics, oncology and geriatrics. Hospice nursing is part of an interdisciplinary effort with a team of other professionals such as physicians and social workers. Hospice nursing is often high-stress due to the emotional environment that the care is taking place in.
Hospice care has evolved in the U.S. over only the last 25 years. Hospice nursing care was added as a Medicare benefit in 1983 and Medicaid in 1985. This is a federal program that allows patients to die in their own home surrounded by family and loved ones.
To become involved in hospice nursing, you will need an advanced nursing degree. The University of Phoenix offers the following online nursing degree programs:
» Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Click for more info)
» Master of Science in Nursing (Click for more info)
» Or see online LPN to BSN, RN to BSN, or general nursing programs