I know what you are thinking . . . because I have been there before - I. Don't. Have. Time. For. This. As regulations change, the expectations for hospice professionals to manage their time, asses the patient for needs, provide emotional support, and document the visit WITH supporting evidence of hospice appropriateness places a lot of pressure and demands on you. So in the spirit of saving time, let's keep this simple:
1) Coffee, with a side of organization
OK, that's only part of it . . . with coffee (or your morning beverage of choice) in hand, give yourself about 10-15 minutes of solace and alone time to review your schedule and gather your thoughts and goals for the day. As you know, even the best laid plans in hospice get derailed. Building in some extra time will allow for delays and derailments.
2) Know Your Role
Recognize what IS yours, and what ISN'T yours. What does that mean? Let's be honest. How many times have you, as a nurse, spent extra time listening to a patient and family member, thinking the whole time, "This is really something the social worker or chaplain has expertise in . . ." This is not to say that you shouldn't be giving support. As hospice professionals, it's who we are and it mostly comes organically from all of us. However, good use of your team's skills can free you up to move onto your next patient, and allow the other team members to utilize their skills and expertise. If you have a "talker" on your hands, planning a joint visit with the social worker or chaplain can be very helpful. "Managing up" your teammates by explaining all that they can do for the patient and family (Emily the social worker has special training in communication . . . Doug the chaplain does a great job at answering these questions about spirituality . . . ) can relieve you of feeling like you have to do it all, and helps the family understand the valuable resources that hospice provides.
3) Shed Some Light on the Visit Structure
Break out your visit into parts, and explain the visit structure to the family from the initial visit. Are you thinking "I can't do that to my patients and families" right about now? This may be a good time to think about a time when you didn't know what to expect, and the feeling of relief you had when someone mapped it out for you. Explaining the structure of your visit helps the patient, the family, and you. Have you ever had a visit where you were trying to do an assessment and the spouse is talking to you about her difficult, sleepless night at the same time? Or when you are trying to teach the caregivers about medication changes and the children of the family come home from school and need attention? When the family members know the flow of your visit, they can plan to be available as well. Explain that teaching is a part of every visit, and that it is helpful to be available at the end of every visit to review goals, answer questions and teach family members about any care topics that apply to the patient's care.
4) Create a Central Caregiving Hub
Help the family during your initial visit where to keep the folder of information, and use the folder to keep notes and teaching materials. All family members and team members should know where the folder is stored, and it can be referred to as often as needed by everyone on the caregiving team. Store your patient education materials in this folder as well.
5) Equip Yourself with Effective Tools
Use a teaching tool that is organized, up-to-date, and designed for ease-of-use. The glaring truth here is that your time is extremely valuable, and many of the caregiver booklets available today are not as thorough or up-to-date as our industry now demands. Flipping through a patient/family education booklet looking for the correct topic that you are teaching in the moment takes time from an already busy schedule. Wings of Change Publications designs patient education materials with hospice professionals in mind. We understand the times pressures, the survey stress, and the true desire to give the patient and family the very best care that we can. Check out the ways that Nature Gave Us Butterflies can help you streamline your visit at Wings of Change Publications. See you there!