The Daily Routine of a Hospice Atlanta Center RN
By Heidi Callaway, RN Charge Nurse, Hospice Atlanta Center
Providing Around-The-Clock Hospice Care
How does a Hospice Atlanta Center RN even begin to describe a day of care? For starters, patients receive 24 hour around-the-clock care. Each 24 hour period is divided into two shifts of twelve hours; I work 7pm-7am regularly. Every hour for me is the same in terms of serving and caring, but different in terms of symptom management and medical needs. I work on a team with another nurse, usually a RN, and two Hospice Aides. I assess my patients and monitor each one for any symptoms of pain, anxiety, shortness of breath, or any other sign of discomfort. I also administer scheduled medication and provide wound care. For the patients’ family, I am available to discuss care of their loved one and help them fully understand the dying process.
At every shift change, a reporting meeting occurs. These meetings are debriefings on each patient’s last twelve hours of care. We carefully note every detail that the incoming nursing staff will need to know to continue their care. A lot of information is exchanged such as: food consumption, medication doses, temperament, activities, and even the timing of the last bowel movement.
Once the reporting meeting is complete, the outgoing shift leaves and the incoming shift divides the patients and their duties begin. Since our patients need us around-the-clock it is necessary to make sure we are prepared for anything they need, whenever they need it.
The Difference between Residential Patients and Acute Patients
At the Hospice Atlanta Center we have both residential and acute care patients. The acute care patient has a particular symptom that needs to be managed, usually pain or trouble breathing. Once the acute care patient has their symptoms controlled, they most often return home and continue receiving care from our wonderful team of nurses who manage the patient’s care through our medical records system Homecare Homebase.
The residential patient is typically a long-term resident of the Hospice Atlanta Center and live in the inpatient. The staff gets to know each of the patients well and they are cared for like family.
In every case, we work as a team—Doctor, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse, Hospice Aide, Chaplain and Social Worker to ensure comfort for the patient and their family.
RNs Work Hard to Make Hospice Feel Like Home
Whether the patient is acute or residential, we encourage everyone to bring a bit of home with them. We love to see family photos and get a glimpse into the lives of our patients. Our patients are valued for who they are as individuals and NOT defined by their diagnosis.
Hospice Atlanta serves a variety of patients, including pediatric. No matter the patient’s age or status I try to spend as much time as I can with each of them. I might be administering medications, listening to stories of their life, telling them a joke, holding their hand or just being in the room with them. In all situations, their comfort is our concern, but their needs are all different. At the end of my 12 hour shift, I organize my notes on all the care given and prepare for the reporting meeting.
When my shift is over I head home to spend time with my own family, but my mind frequently returns to my “family of patients” at Hospice Atlanta Center hoping for peace for each of them.
After 15 years of working in the hospice environment, I still cry when someone moves on, but I am comforted and happy in the role that I played in their care. I can’t imagine this feeling EVER changing. I love each patient and family. I LOVE HOSPICE!