What are your thoughts on giving cards/gifts to pts.?

  1. I am a floor nurse for almost three years. Cardiac floor so we seem to keep some pts for a while. I have gotten close to quite a few pts. This week there is one in particular. In with colon CA and multiple electrolyte issues. Anyway I had spent a LOT of time with him. One nite he told me that he wanted to buy my family and I supper. I told him thanks but he didn't have to do that. He said I know I don't HAVE to but I WANT to. I told him to wait till he got home and call me at work and we would set something up(having no intention on following thru with it) He said what do you mean by that? I said I just want you to get home then we'll talk. He looked at me and said..."I'm not going home." Broke my heart. The next day I brought him in 4 choc chip cookies( he had been craving them the nite before/appetite down staring on TPN)and a card with a smilely face on the front and on the inside it said I thought you could use a smile today. I spoke to the day charge prior to giving it--wasn't sure if it was appropriate. She said that she had never done it but thought it was a nice idea and didn't see why not. What do you all think??
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  2. 23 Comments

  3. by   TheCommuter
    Let's see...I work at a nursing home, and one of my female patients was on hospice last year. She was a 74 year old lady with mild dementia, intractable back pain, CHF, brawny edema to BLE, and a whole slew of other problems.

    She was on a restrictive diet, and had stated to me, "All I want is a hamburger before I die. Why can't I have a hamburger?"

    The next day, I went to a local fast food place and ordered a hamburger for her. I had it loaded with tomatoes, which was her favorite topping. When she received that burger, she was in so much bliss. She had a smile on her face all day as she nibbled on that burger.

    This lady died about 3 months after enjoying this burger, and I have no regrets for fulfilling one of her dying wishes. I suppose that giving a fast food hamburger to a patient is a gift, and I am still unsure of the appropriateness of this situation.
  4. by   whiskeygirl
    What a very kind and considerate thing you both did for your patients!

    I have done it too. I worked the Well Baby Nursery on a night shift, and I had a few baby hats that I was knitting for the NICU. Mom was a fellow knitter so I left one in the baby's bassinet.

    Really, I probably should not have done what I did unless I had enough for every baby in the Nursery.

    Both of your stories were MUCH better!
  5. by   santhony44
    I don't think either of these was inappropriate. In neither case were you hoping to gain anything from giving a gift, nor were you hurting the patient (neither of you) especially since both patients were terminal, anyway.


    A cheerful card or a favorite food or some other little gift that you know the patient would particularly enjoy is, to me, a nice thing to do. I can't recall any specific instances right now, but I'm sure that I've known of other nurses doing similar things for patients in the past, and would hope that it is something all of us might have occasion to do.
  6. by   leslie :-D
    i think it's awesome what you do.
    because of the nature of my work, i get extremely close to my pts and families (if they have families).
    and so, i always bring in clothes that my family doesn't wear; books that i know i'll only read once; pick up items r/t prior conversations reflecting pt wishes.
    different stuff, all the time: been doing so for yrs and wouldn't change a thing.
    i attend many, many wakes or funerals.
    and always send a hand written letter to loved ones, after pt has died.
    very meaningful for all involved.
    as long as you don't cross professional or ethical boundaries, just continue in doing what you're doing, which is providing a much-needed sense of worth to a vulnerable human being.

    leslie
  7. by   leslymill
    Things like this happen in Home Health frequently. A patient and his family gave me a beautiful knit sweater for Christmas and I gave him a pair of tie from LSU PURPLE Scrubs. He was a huge LSU fan with posters everywhere and that is all he talked about half the year.

    I have seen HH aides get their patients medications for them, buy roach spray,soap,shampoo, stuff to numberious to count because the felt the family was neglecting them or using them for their welfare check.

    Also seen aides and nurses give uncharted or scheduled visits to alzheimer patients who were left alone.

    In acute care I tend to think it is inappropriate. If I got lotion or vasaline for one, I would want to get it for them all. I have seen it happen though. Usually the nurse won't say they got it.
  8. by   Tweety
    I think it was inappropriate to tell him to call you at work when he gets home. Never set yourself up like that. Next time say "why don't you have your family bring in something for the staff and I'll it enjoy it them", if the patient is insistant.

    I haven't given cards to patients, but I have brought in books for patients, videos to watch, clothes and stuff like that. I think extra little things for patients is a good thing as long was we're not being manipulated. So I think that's great you brightened up his day up like that. Good job.
    Last edit by Tweety on Sep 22, '07
  9. by   Sassybottom
    Quote from leslymill

    I have seen HH aides get their patients medications for them, buy roach spray,soap,shampoo, stuff to numberious to count because the felt the family was neglecting them or using them for their welfare check.

    Also seen aides and nurses give uncharted or scheduled visits to alzheimer patients who were left alone.
    I can feel my heart melting and eyes tearing up. It blows my mind as to how generous, giving, and kind some people truly are ...
  10. by   Sassybottom
    By the way, I love this post!!!!

    I think what you've all done for your patients was truly compassionate. Such acts of kindness and generosity are truly inspiring
  11. by   Sabby_NC
    It is a very fine line that we walk isn't it?
    I always get so close to my hospice patients. The longer you have them the harder it is. I work with a team of very skillful and gifted staff members.
    If a pt wants to do something nice for me I always encourage the term 'team' and leave it up to them.
    We as an organization will always do what we can for our patients.
    Examples-

    1. We had a male patient who's mother had dementia then out of the blue she asked for him.
    She lived three states away.
    We got together and raised money for someone to drive him down there. Stopping half way for him to rest and head off the next day.
    We had enough for his stay, his gas and money to feed them.
    He died not long after he got back but both he and his mum had smiles which they both took with them.

    2. We had a fairly young man who was dying but never had a chance to take his young daughter to the beach.
    So one of the great nurses I work with set up a beach at their home. She made palm trees, had birds in the trees, we got sand, pool etc He was able then to take his daughter to the beach. He died not too long after this.


    I cannot think of anymore right now but I think as long as it is not going over boundaries. You do not want to give them home numbers, addresses etc.

    You really do need to keep a certain line between them and us.

    I had a patient send me a $100 check. We were able to put that to good use for some equipment for all to use. He was very happy about that too.

    I received a beautiful watch that we auctioned to make money for more equipment. The giver was very happy about that and so was I.

    Most nurses are natural givers and nurturers!
  12. by   widi96
    I have a story from the other side of this discussion - I was a patient several years ago (5 yrs) and it was a very dark part of my life and everything had been going wrong. One of the caregivers brought me a little Beenie baby like stuffed dog. I'll tell you - it was SO nice of her and the brightest spot in my life for about 6 months, probably more. I still have that little dog sitting on a shelf in my living room.
  13. by   Lisa_RN
    i also think it was a nice thing to do. we are there to make our patients feel good medically and in spirit. :wink2: i don't see why a card and cookies is out of context.

    i worked on a cardiac/tele floor and in home health as well. you do have patients for a while. it's hard not to get mighty close to them. i have also had patient send cards, flowers, leave notes in there room, give us plates of food their love one bring in, and of course a big genuine thank you expressing how nice their stay has been. it makes us feel great. it also makes you realize one of the reasons you became a nurse. why not return the favor!!
  14. by   caliotter3
    In home health, I've had the opportunity to both give and receive small gifts or mementos from clients, especially around the holidays. I always have made certain that I refused something that was over the line in value. I've gone out of my way to get little necessities or nice-haves, on my own, for my clients when I felt so inclined. I would bring dog treats for my last client's little dog. No harm done, as long as you know not to go too far. I would give condolence cards with personal notes to families if a client passed away. However, I got burned on this one. I had sent a card to one of the families of someone who passed away and they sued us. It was only afterward, that I read in legal advice for nurses, that it is not a good practice to send condolences to the families of deceased patients (one reason being that your return address is on the envelope). This is one practice that I will not engage in again. For the 99 times out of 100 that little gestures are appreciated in both directions, I think it is a good thing to be able to express our human side to our clients.

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