What if you don't like your hospice nurse?

Put Mom (94+) w/dementia on hospice on Mother's day (UGGHHH)....Tough enough, but.... This woman rubs my sibs(who are there every day!) wrong.... she announced Mom has vascular disease... huh???...no history, no signs, Dr's love Mom's great heart/lung/O2 sats ...her problem is dementia!!
I always viewed Hospice as that lovely long hug of support....but this is not!
I am so distressed ....for Mom....
I do not want to start another stupid thread on hospice.....I absolutely believe in it, having had too many too young to die friends having passed w/peace in hospice....
BUT....I think we need, at minimum, a new nurse (my sister told me the nurse looked at Mom and walked right past herw/NO ACKNOWLEDGDMENT....NO HELLO, V....) when they were in the lobby, today...
I am very sorry to say this....truly....but, boy, do you need to be an advocate!....yessss....even w/hospice.....
Your thoughts???

Answers 1 to 10 of 24
Top Answer
If you aren't happy with the Hospice nurse you have,you really should request a new one that will make you and your Mother happy.It''s all hard enough without having a mean or rude nurse on top.Tell the supervisor why you want to change...that you need a very compassionate one.While my Mom was on service the last 3 and a half years,we went through 5 different nurses for different reasons....Take care,Lu
I agree. Request a different nurse. You want to be glad to see your hospice nurse. You want to feel comfortable sharing any new information with with your hospice nurse. You want someone you can build a relationship with. Someone you trust. Your family deserves that.
My dad was under hospice care for only a couple of months but we went through three hospice nurses. The first one was great but on their own was replaced with a guy who was a jerk - he had absolutely no listening skills and would sweep in making demands for changes in the household from the minuscule to broad. He would get both snarky and pouty when we questioned anything. I requested a new nurse - which we only had a very short time before dad passed. In her short time she showed a complete lack of understanding regarding my mother and both moms dementia and oxycodone abuse. I do believe I could have worked with her for a better understanding had we had more time. This period of time is hard enough without having to deal with a moron or even someone you just don't click with. Ask for a new nurse. Right now I am waiting for a return call from moms current hospice nurse - waiting since yesterday morning. Today is Friday and if I don't hear from him today I will be requesting a new nurse Monday morning.
If a patient has a history of cardiac issues plus a fall with head trauma, I would totally agree with the vascular observation by the nurse. Alzheimer's or Lewy Body or Parkinson's can be present at the same time as vascular issues.
Hospice nurses are unfortunately the target for family members' grief and anger. The agency will give you a new nurse, but you may feel just as angry with the new one. In my case, the family was indifferent to the nurse, but very angry with me, since I was the one who signed the Hospice papers. Both my husband and son blamed me for not prolonging my daughter's life. They thought she had more time.
You don't have to have the same nurse if you all are having trouble getting along. As a nurse I can tell you the worst people are the relatives of someone dying because they don't want their loved one to die, so they transfer all that guilt and anger onto the professional staff. I'm just saying, if your mother is being cared for, what difference does it make who is naughty or nice? She will die regardless of who is caring for her. Don't you think it is really difficult being a hospice nurse and seeing each patient die? Try to walk in their shoes for once, adjust your attitudes, and give all your efforts toward your mother. She doesn't have long...my condolences.
I don't think expecting the nurse to have read her patient's history and expecting her to observe basic courtesies such as greeting the person whose house she's just entered equates to transferring guilt and anger or having an unreasonable attitude.

So while I agree that the task of hospice nurses is extremely challenging and demands exceptional qualities, I still think this particular nurse shouldn't be doing it. All the more reason, in fact.
There is something interesting going on here...the nurse rubs your sibs the wrong...but what about you? If she rubs YOU the wrong way, definitely you need to ask for a different nurse!

When she says "vascular issues" does she mean vascular dementia? My mom also has great O2 sat and strong heart and lungs but has vascular dementia from a stroke.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we absolutely must do what we really don't want to do.

What you can do:

Go to the desk of the hospice facility
Ask for a supervisor
Explain your situation with your sibling being in a dying situation

Now explain that you really do believe in hospice and you really don't want to see anything bad happen with any of the staff, but you really want to see your dying sibling treated with more love, respect, and dignity because after all this is the end of a human life.

Now, explain who the problem is and what they're doing to your sibling and the rest of your family. As long as you know this nurse very well, you now have some information on him/her.

You can opt for a new nurse who is more understanding. If you happen to know of a specific nurse you like better, you can optional white ass for that nurse at the beginning of your conversation with the supervisor.

* You can bring this up first and say something to the effect of "can I have my sibling reassigned to so-and-so since the current nurse is showing disrespect?"

This can give you an idea of how to open a discussion without stirring up any stress for anyone.

Bring up the possibility that the nurse sees your sibling daily and they may be going through a hard time overall. Ask if it's a possibility the nurse may be going through burnout or maybe even depression. I'm sure the nurse is probably going through a lot after seeing people dying on a regular basis.
All I expect from any nurse coming into the home to be professional and courteous. It would be nice to get that "lovely long hug of support", especially for those of us going it alone, but not every nurse has that type of personality or wants to allow themselves to become so emotionally vulnerable to their patients. I have observed that once someone does something that rubs you the wrong way it is easier to start to find fault in everything they say and do. If it has reached that point then there is nothing wrong with asking for a different nurse, merely stating that their personality is not a good fit with your family's.
My mom went through 3 nurses during the 16 months she was on hospice. One I asked to be replaced for definite professional reasons, the other one was replaced when she went on medical leave.

I understand there are those times when family might transfer their grief response to a nurse, but I totally disagree that this happens in all or even most cases. There are good hospice nurses and there are bad hospice nurses. Yes, what they deal with day in and day is sad, yet a good hospice nurse for the most part can rise above this and even see the positive side of working in hospice care - working with the dying and their families is seen as a calling. So lets not automatically blame the family when they want to get rid of the nurse as suffering from grief. That is a cop out which I have heard too much over the years when I hear horror stories about rogue hospices. It also serves to invalidate and dehumanize the family's concerns for their loved ones. We could also say that a nurse who feels under appreciated might transfer those feelings onto the family and their concerns as well. It can go both ways.

What family members deal with while their loved one is on hospice should also be as important or even more so important than the nurse, because they have to live with how they feel about the care their loved one received. My mother lived over 50 years past her own mother's death and she still grieved the pain her mother suffered from cancer and how she felt so judged by the family.

With that said, yes, you can request a new nurse. First, I would ask if the patient is happy with the nurse and if the nurse is taking good care of the patient before the request. Second, I would try to talk with the nurse and if need be the supervisor before making the change. Be aware there are some supervisors who will retaliate against you for making this request whether now or in the future if any other "problems" come up. You may be marked in the record as a trouble maker and it may be put up in your face as a payback for making the supervisor's work harder. Sorry, but that is the sad reality of the medical field. This is done to patients and their families all the time in the medical field and hospice is not immune to it.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support