“The life of health care in our country, the frequent changes to the delivery system, all encompassing mandated enforcements, and new conditions of participation sound ominous and overwhelming. As for the leaders, the administrators and the directors of these systems, I sometimes wonder if they have experienced good nursing during a health crisis, or bad, or even had a health crisis at all. However, we as caregivers dig deep into our souls and continue to bring out our best within the rules and regulations that govern how we must do our jobs.
But wait – there is this thing called hospice, and the team of hospice caregivers. How is it that many of my friends and some of my colleagues, do not know or have misconceptions about hospice caregivers and have not seen this very special type of health care? It may not even be the nurse or the hospice aide, but it could be the director of volunteer services, or the chaplain, or the ever-present social worker, and yes, the director of clinical services, on whom the entire system rests for each hospice.
These folks are a different breed not often seen in the health care arena. They actually sit and listen to their patients. They often become the glue for the family at a time when the fabric is frayed and worn. The team can become a liaison for family members that have not been involved for years. The presence of another human being in the mix that is objective and removed yet connected to the needs of patients and families --- it is the most integral fact of hospice. Hospice services are delivered in a manner that is singularly orchestrated for each patient and their very own end-of-life issues. This offers the patient and family the opportunity to be decision makers. As a member of the hospice staff, we have the capability to ease the fear and allow the emotional and spiritual waters to flow. This can be daunting at times.
Yes, I am a hospice nurse. I cry sometimes when I am driving from one patient’s home to another. I sometimes carry the burden of feeling as though I can’t do more for a patient. I am not delusional anymore. I have a clear and true picture of what health care is and should continue to be. This picture I am referring to is the hospice relationship we develop for our patients and their families. I learn something daily about love, hope, caring – and in turn, my own personal journey is enhanced in the process.
My fellow colleagues are some of the most dedicated people I have had the pleasure of working with during my first six months as a hospice nurse. Nursing for 16 years, and only six months in hospice – it has been the best, and an unexpected joy marked with moments of soul searching. I have to think out loud sometimes and remind myself what a recently deceased author, Randy Pausch, wrote about his own end-of-life journey. In the popular best-seller, The Last Lecture, he wrote, 'Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.'
Hospice nurses and health care providers do not always get what we want in this ever changing world of health care, but in this case, I would not trade anything for the experience to be a part of this thing called hospice. It is an honor.”
~Janette Mayberry, RN, Columbia, TN