Hospice Nurses Share How COVID-19 Has Affected Nursing - Heart 'n Home Hospice & Palliative Care, LLC

Hospice Nurses Share How COVID-19 Has Affected Nursing

Now more than ever, recognizing the valiant efforts of medical personnel is on our minds.  We’ve all seen the countless pictures, videos, and stories of hardworking nurses and other medical staff, all over the internet. Stories of medical personnel living away from their families to keep them safe, and stories of those exhausted and weeping over another loss. We see the marks on their faces from wearing masks for 12 hours a day, and we see in their eyes the toll that it can take on them. We’ve also seen stories of celebrations as COVID patients are able to breathe without a ventilator or being able to leave the hospital after a successful battle over the disease. As we read these stories, we cry with them and we cheer alongside them.

Here at Heart ‘n Home Hospice we have had to make many adjustments to comply with all the recommendations of the CDC, local governments, and the facilities that we work with. One thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to serving our patients both professionally and compassionately.  Below are thoughts from a couple Heart ‘n Home Nurses who share how they have made necessary adjustments, but continue serving their patients with our same high standards even during this pandemic.

Building Trust
COVID-19 has affected all patient care staff nationwide. As an RN in hospice, building trust with patients and families is essential. I believe that trust is comprised of many elements, some cognitive, some emotional. Trust lies somewhere between our cortical and subcortical brains. The conveyance of emotions is most easily accomplished through facial expression. Recently due to COVID-19, all caregivers and many patients/families are wearing masks. This physical barrier not only masks us from microbes, but it also masks our facial expressions which are so vital to conveying trust and caring.  To counter this, I have found myself spending just a few extra minutes with patients talking about whatever it is that they want to talk about. During these encounters, I make a conscious effort to make eye contact and am sure that I have “smiling eyes”. It’s hard to describe what smiling eyes are, but I think everyone knows them when they see them. Smiling eyes bring comfort and trust and comfort and trust are exactly what I try to provide as a hospice nurse.
-Kevin D., RN
Extra Emotional Support
I’ve seen many changes during this COVID-19 outbreak, especially on people’s outlook and perspective. Some people, unfortunately, have significantly increased anxiety and have needed much more emotional support. It is an honor to provide that extra support along with our whole Heart ‘n Home team.  We have had to get creative with this and often our staff has increased emotional and spiritual support via phone calls and video teleconference. One benefit that I’ve seen during this time of quarantine, is that many people have had a chance to refocus on relationships and spend time with loved ones, which has resulted in mending or improving strained relationships and has drawn families closer together.
One recent change has been the increase in the use of Telehealth visits.  I’m so excited about the potential continued growth of Telehealth and people’s openness to using technology for positive outcomes.  There have been many times where I’ve been able to include our physician in conversations related to symptom management or in helping educate patients/loved ones on disease process changes that are challenging.  This has resulted in improved patient outcomes with physician involvement via Telehealth.
With the added stress on healthcare workers right now, I have made efforts to take care of myself so that I can take care of others.  Even though technology is important, I’m also finding that it is so important to disengage from technology at times and use centering prayers and practices to ground myself to real life and the things that matter most. One thing that I’ve found that has helped me is an app called One Minute Pause.  It has multiple guided “pauses” that help me connect to my Creator and help ground myself in my faith journey.
-Zac F., RN
Heart ‘n Home wants to thank our nursing staff for making all necessary adjustments in our current situation all while keeping the focus on patient-centered care. Below is a video tribute to our Nurses. We have an exceptional Nurses!


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