Staff Nurses and Hospice Care in Assisted Living

By Erin Kaskavitch, R.N., Clinical Consultant at Valley VNA Senior Care

I came to Valley VNA last year from a prior position as a hospice nurse and case manager. One of my responsibilities is to get to know our residents and families who are in need of hospice care and work with them to follow their wishes for a peaceful, comfortable end-of-life. Here are some aspects of my hospice work that many people do not know:

Family Empowerment

When a person lives in an assisted living community and needs hospice services, the family is empowered to choose the hospice service that will come in to provide care. Valley VNA Senior Care is like most other senior living communities in that we do not have hospice caregivers on staff, but we welcome and collaborate with outside services all the time. We can help answer questions about hospice programs in the Valley, and our VNA team is very good at helping families transition into hospice care with confidence and comfort.

Everyone Stays Connected

It’s distinctive for Valley VNA to have a staff nurse who is an RN and specifically experienced as a hospice case manager. Every day, I communicate with residents, families, doctors, and hospice agencies, and that helps everyone feel more informed and heard. I also like getting to know our residents who are on hospice (or before), because understanding their diagnosis, personality, and interests helps our entire team provide them with the best care possible.


On-Site RNs Respond Quickly

We have three RNs on staff at Valley VNA and our training helps us catch problems early. Direct caregivers don’t have to call an off-site service to report issues and wait for a reply, which means we often prevent smaller problems from snowballing into hospitalizations or significant patient discomfort or anxiety. When I talk to friends and family about looking for a place for their parents, I emphasize that on-site RNs are very important—for many reasons!

The Human Side of Hospice

Daughters and sons of our hospice residents can call and speak directly with an RN to ask questions or simply check-in for peace of mind. We remove layers of worry by communicating directly with physicians, and we keep family members in the loop. Most of all, a daughter or son (or friend, niece, or nephew) can have a better relationship with their person in hospice when the physical caregiving duties are covered. Now is the time to talk about memories, share advice, laugh, or simply sit with one another in friendship. So much of life is lived at the end. The right caregiving team can help make those moments count.