June 27, 2012

Hospice Nurses: Providing Comfort For Those Who Need It Most

Hospice and palliative nurses distinguish themselves from their colleagues in other nursing specialty practices by their unwavering focus on end-of-life care. Hospice and palliative care includes 24-hour nursing availability, management of pain and other symptoms, and family support. By providing expert management of pain and other symptoms combined with compassionate listening and counseling skills, hospice and palliative nurse promote the highest quality of life for the patient and family.

Regardless of the setting, hospice and palliative nurses strive to achieve an understanding of specific end-of-life issues from the perspective of each patient and his or her family.  To accomplish this, nurses collaborate in a cultural assessment of the patient and family and provide culturally sensitive care.

Hospice and palliative nursing is not only practiced at the bedside. Nurses, consistent with their individual educational preparation, experience and roles, promote the highest standards of end-of-lie care through community and professional education, participation in demonstration grants, and in end-of-life research. As society’s needs change and awareness of the issues surrounding the end of life increases, nurses are called to advocate for the terminally ill and their families through public policy forums, including the legislative process.


Although the majority of hospice and palliative care nurses are “generalists” some elect to sub-specialize (for example, in oncology, pediatrics, or geriatrics) and pursue advanced practice credentialing.  Both the hospice and palliative care nurse have a similar knowledge base. Certification for nurses practicing in hospice and palliative care as a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN)has been available since 1999, following the initial development of the Certified Nurse Hospice (CRNH) in 1994. We feature two nurses who specialize in pediatrics below.

Practice Settings:   

Hospice nurses typically practice in the homes of terminally ill persons and their family caregivers; however, some also work in in-patient hospice units.  Hospice nurses also visit patients who are enrolled in hospice and living in a variety of long-term care settings (e.g., nursing homes, foster care, assisted-living). On average, hospice patients usually die within a month of enrolling in the hospice program.  Palliative care nurses typically practice in non-home settings including hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation units and they treat patients with longer prognoses.

Get To Know Two of our HPCG Kids Path Nurses:

Sarah Turner, RN, BSN
Kids Path Home Health and Hospice RN


Sarah graduated from UNC-G in 1988 with a BSN in nursing. She worked atWesleyLongCommunityHospitalfor from 1987-1988 as a Nurse Tech on the orthopedic floor and in the nursery and returned to work in the nursery after graduation. She worked at Wesley Long for 8 yrs in the Level I and Level II nursery and worked at Greensboro Pediatricians P.R.N. She had 2 boys and decided to leave 12hr shifts for 8-10hr shifts and less weekends and holidays. She went to work at Greensboro Pediatricians, where she did triage and worked with doctors primarily Dr. Schiller for the next 15yrs. When Dr. Schiller retired from Greensboro Peds., Sarah followed and came to Kids Path to work. She serves on the safety committee and works at Champ Camp as the camp nurse.

Sarah has always worked with babies and children (maybe because they are on her level). She loves to learn all she can from them about what is going on with them, how to tell when they are getting sick, and trying to get a smile out of them. The majority of her patients cannot see or speak but that doesn’t slow her down. She wears bright colored scrubs, just in case they can see shadows, and always talks to them the same way she does her other patients. The best parts of her visits are when she is able to gain their trust of a “NURSE-OH NO SHOTS”, get a smile from them and even occasionally a hug. She will quickly telling you how amazing her patients are and how much you can learn from them by just watching them and listening. Sarah even makes friends with the family pets and tries to remember who the family members are to keep them involved.

Jean Berry, RN, CAP-C Case Manager
Kids Path Home Health and Hospice RN

Graduated from Southeast Guilford High School.  Attended Lenoir Rhyne College,Hickory, NC then graduated from UNCG with a BSN.  Divorced with 2 children – Jimmy Sloop living in Nashville, TN & Joy Sloop, living in Greensboro, NC; 2 grandchildren – Hayley Grace, 14 & ¾ yrs of age & Addison Ruth, 4 & ¾ yrs of age.  My dad is 91 & resides at Twin Lakes Retirement Home in Burlington, NC, 1 sister living in Chapel Hill, NC, 1 sister living in Greensboro,NC, 1 brother living in Greer, SC.

I enjoy reading historical fiction, murder mysteries, romance – fiction only, bird watching, wild flowers, African violets Eagle cam watching eaglets hatch & grow; Best known for the musical cards that I give for all holidays; Love the front row rocking chair on a covered porch with a good book listening to the waves & observing the peaceful view hoping for an occasional porpoise to entertain; enjoy gluten free desserts, brisket, a great hamburger with pimento cheese from Harper’s restaurant, oatmeal raisin cookies; My 2 dogs – Blue & Purple who are schnauzer & dachshund mix plus 2 grand dogs – Genevieve & Cassidy.

 Work experience includes:

-Pediatric unit at Moses Cone
-Cardio-Thoracic ICU at NCMemorialHospital, Chapel, Hill
-Pediatric Neuropharmacology Clinic for Behavior Disorders
-Maternal-Child Nurse at the Health Department in Orange County, Hillsborough, NC
-Nursing Care Coordinator for the Pediatric & Nursery Units,Memorial Hospital of Martinsville & Henry County,Va
– Developed the Mother/Baby & Pediatric Home Care program at Advanced Home Care including the short stay maternity program, home phototherapy & apnea monitoring; participated in a committee at the state level to develop Medicaid guidelines for providing pediatric home care
-Child Care Program Nurse for the Health Department & participated in a committee to update the NC child care for sick children rules & regulations