Hospice Work: Your Own Idea or Were You Poorly Advised?

heart in hand

“What do you say when people ask how you can work in hospice?”

Near the end of a long Friday, at the end of another tough week, a colleague posed that question.

That question. That question.

I won’t share the details of our conversation because—like everything in hospice—confidentiality is a priority. But I will tell you my co-worker had several demanding visits in a row with patients. Everyone with a job they enjoy has difficult days like my colleague. But in hospice, all of patients—the scared or angry person, the silent or talkative person, the openly sharing or hide-the-feelings person—are dying. They will not get better.

And so, hospice workers wonder if they truly helped the patient and their family. Read More →

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What John Kennedy Said!

Kennedy speech

In this political season*, I recall President John Kennedy’s familiar, famous line from his inaugural: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

What about this version:

Ask not what your hospice can do for you, but ask what you can do for your hospice.

Now, wait just a New York minute . . .

Isn’t hospice supposed to do it all for you, as patient, as caregiver? Most hospice patients have spent a lifetime paying for Medicare. The nurses and other support staff on the hospice “team” are paid for, right? The medications for the terminal illness are covered in the hospice benefit, right? The equipment brought to your home—hospital-style bed, commode, oxygen, and more—are part of the deal, right?

Why should a caregiver or patient ask, What can I do for hospice?

What a crock!

Now that I’ve irked you, let me try to explain by briefly focusing on my ABCs of hospice care. Read More →

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Is It Safe?

Hoffman

It won’t be the first thing hospice asks you, but it’s important.

“Is it safe?”

The above was not a query from hospice, but the riveting question posed in the 1976 film Marathon Man. During a grim, crucial scene, Laurence Olivier’s menacing character demanded—as he wielded dental equipment in the worst way—to know if his scheme could be safely accomplished.

Dustin Hoffman’s “innocent man” paid an excruciating price for every hesitation, every uncertainty.

I sometimes thought of the Olivier-Hoffman confrontation when one of the hospice’s social workers announced a patient’s house was “safe.” During the discussion about a new patient entering hospice care, the “safe question” must be asked and answered.

Which is to say . . . Read More →

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