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Hospice Nurses: Scheduling is Key to Successful Care

In a typical year, more than 1.6 million Americans receive hospice care. Hospice nurses are an integral part of the hospice care team, which often also includes therapists, physicians, bereavement counselors, social workers, and aides. Together, the team works to manage the patient’s pain, teach the family to care for the patient, and help the patient and their family navigate the process of dying.

That said, clinical care is only one part of a hospice team’s responsibilities. In addition to direct patient care, the care team is responsible for a multitude of administrative duties, including quality improvement measures and processes, outcome metrics, and policies and programs.

While hospice care typically takes place in the patient’s home – such as their house or a residential facility – it can take place in other settings. Hospice nurses play a pivotal role in every setting, but particularly in continuous home care, which is provided as needed to manage a crisis. Similarly, inpatient respite care and inpatient care rely on round-the-clock hospice nurses to manage patients’ pain and symptoms.

Optimal Staffing for Hospice Nurses

Hospice patients have complex needs, often requiring intensive nursing care. A study examining strategies to meet residential hospice patients’ needs determined that the optimal ratio was 1.5 to 1.7 patients per hospice nurse. A consensus paper outlining optimal staffing for community programs cited the need for one palliative care nurse for every 25 patients. For small hospitals without a palliative care unit, the recommendation is one palliative care nurse for every 25 referrals. For hospitals with a 10-bed palliative care unit, the minimum staff recommendation is two nurses per 12-hour shift.

The Importance of Hospice Nurse Scheduling

Efficient hospice nurse scheduling is crucial both for patient care and for nurse retention, given the 24/7/365 nature of palliative care. Hospice nurses need to know whether an agency expects a case manager to participate in on-call rotations or has a separate day staff and on-call staff.

Scheduling software is invaluable when developing hospice nurse schedules. A cloud-based schedule means that updates can be made and published in real-time, and that an up-to-the-minute schedule is accessible by nurses from any device. With software, nurses can update their preferred contact information, helping to ensure that the right on-call hospice nurse is contacted when the need arises. Scheduling becomes streamlined and is readily adaptable to respond to changing patient censuses.

MDsyncNET’s cloud-based hospice nurse scheduling software delivers four advantages: low set-up fees, simple to learn, a single source of truth, and painless scheduling swaps. Call 888-506-5061 to see how MDsyncNET can help you integrate scheduling software into your facility.

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