What Makes a Hospice Nurse Great?
In a Word: Joyful
The elderly man had been an accomplished pianist, but Alzheimer’s disease had taken its toll on his mind and body, progressing to the point that he was no longer able to communicate.
David, the man’s hospice nurse, looked for ways to make connections. On a hunch, David took the man to a piano in the recreation room of his assisted living community. What happened next amazed David, but also re-affirmed his belief in the beauty that can be found in end-of-life care.
“He played such beautiful music,” David recalls. “He couldn’t speak of it, but his brain remembered what he had learned so many years before.”
For this nurse, sharing his skills, time and talents to care for terminally ill patients is just part of what called him to hospice nursing.
“Most of us choose a career in healthcare to make a difference in people’s lives,” David says. “With hospice nursing, I can give my patients individualized, one-on-one care that doesn’t exist in most other kinds of nursing. I know that if a patient needs some extra attention, I can take the time to make sure she has what she needs today.”
David shares a variety of interests with his patients. He brings in his dogs, which are certified in pet therapy, and often sings to his patients.
“Music and puppies—they touch people in different ways and can generate a response you might not usually get from a patient,” he says. “Making those connections with patients can be so meaningful—even joyful.
“I plan to be a hospice nurse until I retire,” David vows. “That’s how rewarding my job is.”