What does a hospice nurse do?
Palliative care is indicated at any stage in a life limiting condition, that is a condition that cannot be cured. It can be delivered by a GP, public health nurse or nursing home.
Wexford Hospice Homecare is a specialist palliative service delivered by clinical nurse specialists. Their expertise is often needed when a patient’s symptoms are difficult to control.
A patient’s GP or hospital consultant sends a referral to Wexford Hospice Homecare. The GP continues to liaise closely with the Homecare service.
What happens when someone is referred to Wexford Hospice Homecare?
The first contact is by telephone call, to arrange a visit with the patient. This is done by the nurse who will be continuing the care.
At the first visit, the patient is introduced to the service and a full assessment is carried out. The nurse will also meet with relatives if this is needed.
All new patients are discussed at a team meeting which takes place every fortnight. The team consists of the palliative care consultant, the palliative care nurses and the occupational therapist. At this meeting the care programme is planned, such as drugs required, equipment needed (eg grab rails, walking aids, specialist bed) and the frequency of home visits. The needs of the patient are reassessed on an ongoing basis. If the patient responds to treatment and is no longer in need of specialist nurse care, the patient may be discharged from the service but, it is explained that if anything changes they can be referred back into the service by their GP. Last year there were …. discharges. It is a continuous assessment and everyone’s needs are different.
The service is 9-5, 7 days a week. There is 1 nurse on call for the county on Saturday and Sunday.
The nurse’s role includes education of the patient about their condition. They also educate other health care professions on symptom control. They act as an advocate for the patient, following up on their questions.
The nurse’s input increases as the end of life approaches, helping with symptom control.
Following death, the nurses provide bereavement follow-up with the relatives, if needed.
Wexford Hospice Homecare is a fantastic service which costs €750,000 per year to run, of which the HSE contributes 20%. The rest is made up of voluntary donations.