Meet Your Delaware Hospice Homecare Nurse

In our homecare programs, each patient gets a specialized visit schedule with an assigned nurse who provides case management and coordinates all of your loved one’s services. To help you imagine the kind of support your nurse will provide, let’s shadow Cathy, one of our wonderful homecare nurses, for a day …

And she’s off to wherever each patient calls home

It’s 9:00 a.m., and Cathy is visiting her first patient, Anne, in her independent living apartment in a retirement community. She asks Anne about her comfort level, observes her condition while they’re talking, takes her vitals, reviews her medications, and helps her fill her medication planning box for the next week.

Anne has a new script from her doctor, so Cathy calls the pharmacy to order it for her. Cathy notices Anne’s increasing difficulty getting in and out of her automatic bed and makes a few adjustments to make it easier.

On her way to visit John, two floors up in the skilled nursing wing, Cathy stops to meet with the facility’s staff. She learns John has been wandering more frequently. As part of Delaware Hospice, Cathy has an interdisciplinary team to turn to for ensuring that each patient receives holistic care. She calls Delaware Hospice’s volunteer coordinator to arrange for a volunteer to assist John at meal times so the facility’s staff can give adequate attention to the other residents.

As one of Cathy’s fellow nurses likes to say, “I may look like one person, but I’m actually 100 people strong.”

From her car, Cathy calls Anne’s and John’s families to keep them in the loop on each of their loved one’s status. She gets a bite to eat and makes it to her next family by noon.

It’s time to support a family caregiver in his role

Bob lives with his son Mike. In conversation, Cathy learns that Bob has been having more difficulty breathing, so she talks with him about how taking his medicine can help him breathe easier. Then Cathy spends some time teaching Mike ways he can help his dad take his medicine that will allow Bob to feel more comfortable accepting the assistance.

After years of experience, Cathy knows that patients often refuse someone’s offer to help because they “don’t want to be a burden.” Other times, they’re too proud to ask for assistance because they don’t want to admit they can no longer take the medicine themselves the way they used to. Helping the family understand the situation and how to handle it makes a huge difference.

A team approach assures pressing matters are addressed

Back on the road by 1:45 p.m., Cathy gets a call from the office that one of her patients, who is not scheduled for a visit today, has an urgent need. On other days, she would be able to rearrange her schedule to make it over to check on the patient, but right now she’s on the other side of the county. Cathy arranges for another nurse on the team to go out and check on the patient, but continues to monitor the situation.

Cathy can see that her fourth patient of the day, Betty, is entering the final stages of the dying process. She explains to Betty’s husband, John, exactly what to expect and how he can help keep Betty clean and comfortable. Cathy sits with John for a while, holding his hand, as he begins to process this new reality.

Her day’s never really over

At home by 6:30 p.m., Cathy wraps up her paperwork. But even though she’s off-duty, she checks her Delaware Hospice email every time she walks by her laptop. It’s hard to turn off concern for her patients’ well-being—even though she knows that there are triage nurses on call 24/7 to assess emerging situations, and evening, night, and weekend nurses who will make any unscheduled visits necessary to address urgent situations.

When it all comes down to it, Delaware Hospice nurses and the team members behind them see their work as more than a job—they see it as their calling. They’ll do everything in their power to lighten families’ burdens and ensure that their patients are comfortable and have the opportunity to die with dignity.

Find out how we can help you and your loved ones live comfortably:

The region’s leading licensed nonprofit community-based healthcare organization, serving the entire state of Delaware and Pennsylvania’s southern Chester and Delaware counties.

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