July 15, 2022 | By: Marty Barnes
Many years ago, when we relied on home nurses to help with my daughter, there were not a lot of nurses in the field. For the most part though, people could receive the majority of their allowed home care hours. Today, I work with medically complex children, and many are sent home from the hospital with little to no nursing help at home.
My mother has been very ill, and my husband and I went to Houston to be by her side as we withdrew care. We expected her to go quickly. After 24 hours, she was still declining, but not rapidly. We decided to ask hospice to help us move her from the hospital to her home.
Hospice was able to get all the equipment that she needed including a bed, oxygen, medications, etc. delivered to her home in hours. Then they set up medical transport to get her home safely.
Suddenly, I was facing the same issue that my patients face daily. There were no nurses available to come to the house. The hospice nurses would do home visits, but there were no private duty nurses available to stay with my mom.
Hospice let us know about the nursing shortage before we brought her home. I knew my mom wanted to be home and that if she were home, the rest of the family would be able to visit her without the strict COVID restrictions at the hospital. I knew she would be able to see the dog that she had been asking for over the previous weeks.
Getting her home was the right thing to do. However, I knew as soon as we did, the only person that would not find the home setting better or easier was going to be me. I am a nurse and I have been through the end-of-life multiple times. I knew that once we left the hospital, most of my mom’s care would fall on me.
I agreed to take on the added role. And I knew it was what she would want. We expected she would have passed hours after we withdrew care. So, going into the home setting, we knew it was days at most, not weeks.
I could not help but think of my patients and their families as exhaustion took over. They take their children home knowing there is no promise of help anytime soon. The exhaustion that comes over them, stays with them. Possibly for years.
I plan to keep this experience fresh in my mind and be sensitive to what my patients are going through. I hope I can use this past week to help me to be a better nurse.
If you’re looking for support and resources, learn more about caring for a child with long-term medical needs.