I am an On Call nurse and I just returned from a call where the family stated the patient stopped breathing so they were rubbing her chest to get her to breathe. I was so taken aback at our own hospice nurses who have not taken the time to educate and let them know what to expect. (and what not to do)
I was there 1.5h, and as I was assessing, I would tell them what I was doing and why. I didn't say anything negative in front of the patient and told them I would take them to another room to explain the things I couldn't in front of her. I will not do into detail what I said as that would take a book, but I explained every symptom that could take place, why it happened (I did not have all the answers to that one, and told them so) and actions they could take and what meds to use, I didn't feel as though I did anything special, just my job.
They were so grateful and really understood what was going on with their mother and what could happen next. It is always better for them to say "oh, that's what she was talking about" than "oh my goodness, what is this"
It may take a little longer up front, but it will put their minds at ease and not be so anxious when things arise.
Please teach them not only what may happen, but teach them what to do about it. I know most hospice nurses do this, but some don't as they are too stretched, on time constraints, or whatever, but it makes such a difference for them.
Thanks for listening, I feel better now!!!!!