Findings on an Interview with a BSN Prepared Nurse

Hospice or Palliative Care and the Role of Palliative Care Nurses

Hospice or palliative care is a philosophy and type of care that focuses on the palliation of patients suffering from chronic illnesses, terminal diseases, or who are critically sick. Palliative care nurses frequently cope with symptoms and pain while also catering to their patients' spiritual and emotional needs. According to Harkness and DeMarc (2016), palliative care nurses frequently provide skilled care, treatment of symptoms and discomfort, spiritual and emotional support, and other services to patients in the terminal stages of life-limiting diseases in order to help them live a full and pleasant life. Additionally, the number of patients in the palliative care unit is on the rise (Harkness & DeMarco, 2016); in this regard, it is prudent for the students to have in-depth information cognizant of the services offered to fully equip and prepare themselves towards delivering quality and informed care to the terminally ill.

Role of Palliative Care Nurses

The nursing practitioner attending to chronically and terminally ill patients is expected to offer holistic services including expert care, symptoms and pain management, spiritual and emotional support to ensure that the patients live a comfortable life (Harkness & DeMarco, 2016). When asked about the role of the nurse operating in palliative care, Dr. Makumbe denoted that his work is to make sure that the patients live a comfortable life in their last phases. Here, he depicted that many patients do not get out of their hospital beds to attend to their usual daily activities such as going for social and emotional support; therefore, it is the work of the healthcare practitioner to provide holistic services to cater for all these, including spiritual nourishment.

Various Ways that Palliative Care Nurses Provide Care to their Patients

Harkness and DeMarco (2016) assert that nursing is a holistic practice and nurses in all their settings have unique qualifications to foster compassionate, effective, cost-effective, and comprehensive care services to their patients, especially those suffering from terminal illnesses. Accordingly, Mr. Makumbe affirmed that his core work is to ensure that the patients suffering from life-limiting diseases receive comprehensive care, which is holistic and cost-effective. When asked about the ways through which he ensures that the care offered to the patients is comprehensive, he alluded that his services are centered on the patients and their families. He added that these services often prepare the patients and their families regarding the final phases of their loved ones. In this way, the services are responsive towards the needs of the patients and their families so that they can anticipate and emotionally prepare themselves towards the death of their loved ones. Mr. Makumbe also depicted that through upholding the nursing standards pertinent to ethical conduct as well as advocating for the patient and family rights, caregivers ensure that patients and their families are served accordingly. In fact, this is a means of providing comprehensive and comfortable care to the patients. Additionally, ensuring clinical safety and excellence is a way of delivering palliative care to the patients; Mr. Makumbe connoted that it is within the nursing practice that nurses are required to offer safe and excellent services; besides, nurses have an obligation to deliver care that is inclusive and accessible by all.

The Scope of Palliative Care

According to Kar, Subitha, and Iswarya (2015), palliative care is aimed at enhancing the patients’ quality of life while positively impacting the course of illnesses. In essence, palliative care describes supportive attention where illnesses do not respond to curative treatments; hence, the practice is meant to provide relief from distressing symptoms and pain while affirming life and noting that death is a normal process. Essentially, palliative care provides support to the terminally ill patients and their families through a team approach to address the needs of the families and their respective loved ones. This notion aligns with Dr. Makumbe’s elucidation that nurses working in the palliative setting are required to continually offer supportive care services to the families and their patients while preparing them for an impending death of the ailing patient. Accordingly, palliative care is one of the fundamental units in the healthcare setting, which is headed and supervised by select persons to ensure that quality and safe healthcare is delivered to the patients and their families. Mr. Makumbe denoted that palliative care nurses are often headed and supervised by chief clinical officers who make sure that services are running smoothly.

Impact of the Local, State, and Federal Policies on Palliative Care

Rushton and Schwartz (2011) ascertain that providing improved care for patients suffering from terminal illnesses incorporates an imperative dimension in the healthcare policy, cognizant of the organizational, legal, and economic hindrances that obstruct reliable and excellent care. The federal level policy has incorporated a comprehensive public policy agenda towards delivering palliative care and it is a priority area. Indeed, advocates confirm that making policies by the courts and state legislators has significant effects on the quality and nature of care for patients with terminal illnesses. Besides, the state-level concerns are of interest to the healthcare system because they provide ideological premises for the clinicians and many others that seek optimal environments for policies regarding good care towards the end-of-life. In addition, there are policies that are meant to drive the funding exercises regarding the provision of palliative care.

Health People 2020 and the Palliative Practice

The Health People 2020 is aimed at providing access to quality and comprehensive healthcare as the fundamental achievement of equity in health and increased quality for all. As implicated in the Health People 2020, accessing healthcare impacts the social, physical, and mental statuses of the patients and their families; hence, this notion fosters the nurses operating at the palliative care units to remain focused towards holistic care pertinent to the people suffering from terminal illnesses. Through highlighting the barriers to healthcare, Dr. Makumbe conceded that the Health People 2020 facilitates the availability of adequate nurses to cater to the terminally ill and ensure affordable services.


Harkness, G. & DeMarco, R. (2016). Community and public health nursing: evidence for practice. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

Healthy People. (2017). Access to Health Services. Retrieved from [Accessed on April 26, 2017].

Kar, S. S., Subitha, L., & Iswarya, S. (2015). Palliative care in India: Situation assessment and future scope. Indian Journal Of Cancer, 52(1), 99-101. doi:10.4103/0019-509X.175578

Rushton, C. H., & Schwartz, J. (2011). A Legislatively Mandated Council: A Model for Palliative Care Policy Integration. Journal Of Palliative Medicine, 14(11), 1240-1245. doi:10.1089/jpm.2011.0003

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