We can’t know what others go through if we don’t know their stories. And some stories, unfortunately, are not shared enough. One such narrative needing to be shared is how hospice nurses and workers can be put into dangerous situations.
Already, these front-liners have it tough. Hospice nurses drive long distances from house to house to take care of high-acuity patients. They must spend time getting to know the patient and his or her caregivers in the environment; spend time implementing good daily-to-week-by-week clinical care; they must assist with the activities of daily living; educate significantly; and document. There’s a formidable amount of ongoing work to do, from admission nursing to case managing, to take care of the sickest of the sick.
That’s why nurses shouldn’t be taken advantage of. No nurse should be sent to an unsafe environment just to make money off a visit. But yet they are. And what’s worse, nurses are not always given a proper heads-up about the situations they’re walking into. Some of the stories are: walking into a drug-dealing house (yes, hospice medications were being used) where word was an imminent shoot-out was going to occur, which then subsequently occurred and put the patient into a coma - any hospice worker could have been there and gotten killed; walking into a meth house with obvious environmental toxicity to admit an inappropriate patient unrelated to anyone in the house; walking into a house with open weapons - on the nightstand, under a pillow, in plain sight; walking into a dimly-lit, secluded house where no family could be found and the patient was dead in the basement, for how long unknown; being exposed to COVID-19, heavy smoking, or lice without being told; being sent to do a late-hours visit in a dangerous neighborhood with improper directions given.
If a job is asking you to put your health and safety at risk it is the wrong job. No job should care so little about its employees as to put them in harm's way without a second thought. All of us are responsible for each other. All of us should care about the safety and well-being of our coworkers and employees. It’s okay to say no to an admission or a dangerous situation if you’re risking your employees' life or health. We need to realize we can’t take care of our patients if we don’t exist.