I recently got to accompany two of our hospice nurses on patient visits at long-term care facilities. It was a great morning.
One of our nurses was on the hunt for a solution to a patient’s personally owned high-tech wheelchair, which had a twisted foot rest. She was worried that the patient’s foot would become uncomfortable. In addition to many other infirmities, this patient was suffering from advanced dementia and our nurse patiently told her that it wasn’t going to rain anymore at least 17 times!
On another of her patients, the nurse examined her skin inch by inch; the patient had had an infection in her hand that was healed and our nurse wanted to be sure there were no re-occurrences. Trying to make the crowded room more safe for a patient who gets a little restless, the nurse moved equipment that was no longer needed and cleared a better space – just in case the patient forgot to call for help to get out of bed. Prevention, planning, and reducing risk are everyday steps that are hardly noticed because of an anticipating, professional nurse.
The visit that I made with our second hospice nurse was to a patient and family. The patient was actively dying and the family was, understandably, tense and anxious. You would have loved to see the tableau as I saw it: two daughters on their feet looking down at dad, hands in pockets. And our nurse went straight to his side and knelt on the floor to be at eye level. Her hands went to his. It was a remarkable gesture and so telling in terms of what we understand and respect during these life moments of truth.
The nurse coached one daughter about how to moisten her father’s lips while she gently reminded the daughters about what to expect in the hours to come. As more family arrived – more explanation, more reassurance. All in a quiet way with straightforward non-medical words. And all of this happening while the lights and alarms were raging due to a fire drill. The nurse also coached the on-duty staff at the nursing facility about how to give the medication for restlessness – so collegial, I could see the mutual respect of all these nurses.
Neither of these nurses will think much about their day – so regular and so routine. The family of the second patient will never forget that day. And the little demented lady may not remember the name, but I could tell by her beautiful smile that she will always know the glow of a loving nurse.
Thanks to these two hospice nurses. They are just two of a blessed army of incredible nurses here at Care Dimensions.
Do you have a loved one living with an advanced illness? Know your options. Visit: https://www.caredimensions.org/where-do-i-start/; call our Referral Center at 888-287-1255.