Posts Tagged ‘hospice

Houston Hospice Nurses: Life Matters And This Is What It’s All About

As I walk the halls of Houston Hospice’s inpatient unit, whispers can be heard coming from multiple patient rooms. Peering into one room, a nurse is seen comforting an elderly man wondering what life might be like when his wife of 54 years will no longer be at his side. Across the hall, a nurse listens as a teenage boy asks her what heaven might be like when he gets there; nervous that he won’t know anyone when he gets there. Continuing down the hall, I see into the room on the left, a nurse is teaching a man’s sister how to administer his medications in preparation for him to go home; something he has been longing for since the day he found out he was ill. In the room up ahead to the right a nurse works diligently at the bedside of her newly-admitted 31 year old patient to get the pain caused by her breast cancer managed as the patient’s parents stand watching with tears streaming down their faces. I continue walking the hall, and I feel an overwhelming sense of pride for my wonderful team of nurses.

Here at Houston Hospice, the inpatient unit nurses provide a full-spectrum of physical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual care with the goal of preventing suffering and relieving symptoms to support the best possible quality of care for our patients and their families. As we enter National Nurses Week 2014, I would like to recognize and sincerely thank each and every Houston Hospice inpatient unit nurse as they are leaders in providing uncompromising and compassionate end-of-life care to our patients and families.

“And what nursing has to do … is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.” – Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing: What it is and what it is not.

Thank you, nurses, for all you do,

Jessica Rousseaux
Inpatient Unit Patient Care Managerholding hands

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tags : , , , , ,

The Joy of Living as Shared by a Hospice Patient

 

April 10, 2012—Another Hospice volunteer and I sit at the bedside of an animated, talkative 97-year-old African American woman whom I’ll call “Louise.” Her thin face is haloed with a white cotton turban, and her eyes sparkle with good humor. She tells us that she fell in her home and broke a hip, the first broken bone in her long life and her first time having to go to a hospital. She was able to reach the phone to call for help, and she waited quietly lying on the floor until her sister arrived.

 

While the doctors were examining her, they found that Louise had metastasized cancer. Today she reminisces about picking cotton and corn as a child on her family’s riverside farm in the small town of Edna, Texas. Louise never married, but after finishing elementary school, she worked as a housekeeper for a couple who moved north to Chicago. When the husband died, she followed the ailing wife to a retirement community in Florida and cared for her until her death. Nineteen years ago, Louise moved back to Texas to be near her extended family. She lists the names of her siblings and nieces and nephews, and gives us their birth dates. When I asked the date of her own birthday, she boasts, “I’ll turn 98 on April 21.” She says, “People tell me that I have lots of stories to tell.” Joan and I assure her that she surely does. Louise still has a group of friends whom she wants to notify about where she is. Some are in nursing homes, and they still manage to stay in touch.

 

April 17, 2012—Louise is delighted to see me again and asks me to switch off the TV that the nurses have left on for her entertainment. She’d much rather chat and regale me with the same stories she told me the week before.  She is excited about her upcoming 98th birthday party on April 21 and tells me she always hoped she’d live to be 100. When the preacher from her neighborhood Baptist church arrives to pray with her, she treats him with deep respect. I leave them to their prayers and encounter Anne, the social worker in the hallway. She says that Louise is too healthy to stay at the inpatient unit of Hospice, and that paperwork is in motion to have her transferred to another facility.

 

April 24, 2012—I notice a bunch of shiny balloons still inflated on the ceiling in one corner of the room. Louise tells me about her cousins, nieces, nephews and step-sister escorting her in a wheel chair to celebrate her birthday in the courtyard with soup and ice cream and other soft foods “that I can eat with my dentures.” I hear all about the music and presents and laughter, and suddenly Louise is quiet. We both realize that the party’s over and that unless a miracle occurs it’s the last birthday she will celebrate.

 

I ask if she’d like me to read her some psalms. Louise responds, “Whatever you do for me, honey, I accept gratefully.” But before I reach for her Bible, she recites aloud by memory part of Psalm #23 and the entire Lord’s Prayer.  She confides, “I say those words every morning as soon as I’m awake and repeat them at bedtime, when I send prayers to any loved ones who are especially needy.” Louise reminisces about singing spirituals in her Baptist-Methodist farmland church. I sing Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho and Amazing Grace with her, and she chimes in, with a grin on her emaciated face. Afterwards, Louise admits, “I can’t sing worth a darn, but if someone else is singing, I can’t help but join in. I don’t understand the words to modern songs, but those spirituals bring me right back to my childhood.” Just as I’m leaving the room, a hospice volunteer named Loretta visits with her 4-pound “therapy dog,” Gigi—small and gentle enough to cuddle up next to Louise, who claims to be frightened of big dogs.

 

May 1, 2012—I arrive with my guitar to accompany our spirituals, eager to see Louise, and I’m stunned by her transformation. She is asleep in her bed, without all the pillows that usually prop up her back. Her body looks tiny, and now that her mouth is free of dentures, her face is shrunken. She is breathing so lightly that her chest barely moves. I decide to sing quietly at her bedside. She makes no response, and I hope that the familiar melodies are reaching her on a subconscious level. I realize that once her 98th birthday party has come and gone, and everyone she loves has shown up to honor her, Louise is ready to let go of life. She is tired and doesn’t want to be transferred to a long-term care facility. Silently bidding her farewell, I slip out of the room. I know that it’s likely that this is my last view of her. Louise has given me the gift of her joie de vivre, and I feel grateful to her.

–Houston Hospice volunteer, Ginger Clarkson

Volunteerplayingguitarandsingingtopatient

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tags : , , , ,

Houston Hospice: National Hospice Month

National Hospice Month is upon us. Every Monday through the month of November Houston Hospice will be highlighting employee experiences and delving into the human aspect of hospice care. The 2012 National Hospice and Palliative Care theme is Comfort·Love·Respect – something we see daily at Houston Hospice. Hospice care happens because of skilled and compassionate hospice and palliative care professionals. These include physicians, nurses, social workers, hospice aides, chaplains and volunteers. Below is a glimpse of employee insight into compassion driven end-of-life hospice care.

What have you gained from working at Houston Hospice?

 “Knowing that we are truly helping patients, and their families at the most crucial part of their lives,” Robynette Hall, RN, On-call Team.

“What I have gained most at Houston Hospice is compassion and patience,” Sonja Payne, Receptionist.  

“Fulfillment in being a healing presence,” Kathy Flinn, RN, PCM-IPU.

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tags : , , , ,

The 2012 Butterfly Luncheon

Ron Hall

Houston Hospice will host its annual Butterfly Luncheon on Tuesday, April 10th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hilton Houston Post Oak Hotel.  Ron Hall, co-author of the book, same kind of different As me, will be the special guest speaker. The Butterfly Luncheon is the primary fundraiser that recognizes Houston Hospice’s pediatrics program called The Butterfly Program. Profits raised from The Butterfly Luncheon benefit all operations of Houston Hospice.

I am very excited about our speaker Ron Hall. His capability to tell a story and paint a mental picture keeps the audience engaged and entertained. If attending our 2012 Butterfly Luncheon, I highly advise reading his book, same kind of different As me, that Ron co-wrote with friend Denver Moore. The story about how the two met is inspiring especially since they both came from two different worlds. The novel proves that when coping with death, we can all find common ground no matter what our backgrounds are.

The event will include lunch and a raffle that will feature our hand stitched quilt sewn by Houston Hospice volunteers. There will also be a booth with sterling silver butterfly jewelry for sale by JD Designs. Copies of same kind of different As me, will be available for purchase. Ron Hall will sign books at the event.

If you are interested in attending our 2012 Butterfly Luncheon, you can visit our website at www.houstonhospice.org or contact the Development Department at 713-677-7130. This is one of our major fundraisers for the year and is always a joy to be a part of.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tags : , , , , ,

Celebrating Valentine’s Day as a Caretaker

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that people love to love or love to hate. Some people love the idea of having a whole day to celebrate their love for their friends, family, and that special someone. Other people believe Valentine’s Day is a made up holiday to generate card, chocolate and flower sales. Whatever your opinion is, as a caretaker acknowledging Valentine’s Day can benefit your loved one.

If you take away all of the commercialization of Valentine’s Day what is left? The answer is simple- love. Dedicating a whole day of love for the people in your life is a great way to realize how valuable they are. As a caretaker, you are already a laborer of love. Balancing work and family is stressful enough. You choose to become a primary caretaker because of your deep love for your family member or friend.

This Valentine’s Day, take some time to think about the love you have for the friend or family member you are taking care of. In the chaos of trying to create a successful balancing act, it’s easy to forget why you are a caretaker. Think about great memories shared between the two of you and talk about them with your sick loved one. You don’t have to buy flowers, chocolates, or cards to celebrate your love for each other.

Also, don’t forget to celebrate the love you have for yourself. Take a moment to think about your characteristics that make you unique and special. When you love yourself you can love others even more. Don’t let yourself forget your worth or that you are a strong, caring person. Give yourself a giant hug and compliment.

Even though Valentine’s Day can seem a little over the top and excessive, don’t forget the message of love. Let others in your life know that you love them even if it’s a simple phone call or letter. And celebrate the love you have for yourself.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hospice During the Holidays

When a family member is admitted into hospice care, a variety of emotions come into play. Fear, sadness, anger and relief are felt at any given moment and can often lead to confusion and dismay. During the holidays, these emotions can peak and we can sometimes lose sight of the positives hospice care offers.

First of all, hospice care provides an environment where it is safe to say goodbye. When a patient agrees to hospice care, he or she is giving you permission to say farewell. Family members and friends can focus on their loved one and each other. Also, having family and friends around can offer great validation for those who are having difficulty with the farewell process.

In addition, hospice can bring together the patient’s family members and friends. During a difficult time, most families become stronger than ever. They support one another and tend to let go of petty arguments that occurred in the past. Also, family members spend more time together while a family member is in hospice care. They form a bond knowing that they are all going through this process together.

Also, hospice provides a place to relive precious holiday memories as a family. The patient gets to enjoy stories from a variety of friends and family members about holiday traditions and funny memories. This is a great way for the patient and the patient’s family to focus on positive thoughts. Sharing funny holiday stories can help lighten the mood and provide relief to the family members and friends who are nervous or uncomfortable.

And finally, hospice allows you to see the kindness strangers can offer. Volunteers and nurses do not stop working during the holiday season and often sacrifice holidays to take care of patients. A hospice staff understands how difficult losing a close friend or family member can be during the holidays. They provide extra support, extra attention and extra kindness to family members during the holiday season. Witnessing these extra efforts can make you appreciate how caring strangers can be at a time in need.

Saying goodbye to a loved one is never an easy task and during the holidays it can be more difficult. Remember to try to focus on the positives and don’t be afraid to form a support group of family members and friends. Understand that the hospice staff is there to comfort you and to help you during the holidays. Treasure the precious moments you have with your loved ones, share cherished memories and appreciate the impact the patient’s life has had on you.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tags : , , , , ,

World Alzheimer’s Month

This month is World Alzheimer’s Month and the 21 specifically is World Alzheimer’s Day. Over 5 million people in the United Statesare currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. As awareness is recognized this month for patients with the disease, those giving hospice care to patients should be saluted as well.

For each person that is living with Alzheimer’s or Dementia,  there is likely to be multiple others working with that person in an effort to provide the total care that is necessary to fight the disease. Alzheimer’s patients often need great care from a hospice or caregiver, especially in the latter stages of the disease as Dementia start to have a greater affect.

Even though the month is winding down in the next week or so, there are still plenty of ways you can recognize and increase awareness of the disease. You can have a great impact by wearing purple a few times this month to spread the message of Alzheimer’s awareness. Also, supporters can have an impact on Facebook by changing their profile pictures to the End Alz icon created by the Alzheimer’s Association.

This year, supporters are trying to spread awareness of the different effects of dementia. The fact that Alzheimer’s can affect anyone of any race, both men and women of any status or background makes it a disease that people should be highly aware of. Alzheimer’s is a disease that can transform an elderly person who seems independent into a patient who is completely dependent on care giving for their daily activities. 

Locally, this is where the impact of a hospice can come in. In Houston, there are not only Alzheimer’s patients in need of a care giver, but also patients suffering from multiple other diseases. For many of the elderly living independently, their lives could change overnight. With the help of respite care, the elderly will be given the proper amount of diligence and care in a Houston apartment or home. They are cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, aides, social workers, therapists, a chaplain and volunteers.

As the month of September draws to a close, we should aim to increase the awareness of this impactful disease by spreading knowledge throughout World Alzheimer’s Month. The effort in these months of awareness has a great impact by informing thousands throughout the world about the importance of hospice and respite care.

This article was written by guest blogger Paige Taylor, a recent graduate from the University of Texas El Paso.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tags : , , , ,

Labor of Love

With the Labor Day Holiday approaching this weekend, I really want to take the time to examine what this holiday means. Basically, Labor Day was made an official holiday in 1894 to coincide with the labor movement. Everyone needs an extra day off from the stress of work, but when your job is a caretaker, it’s a different story.

Photo by Gianluca Neri from flickr.com

This Labor Day, I want to encourage caretakers to take the whole day off from the responsibility of taking care of a sick loved one. I understand this is not an easy task to do and it may seem irresponsible, but I feel it is necessary to take a break.

For the most part, caretakers work harder than others. The majority of caretakers have multiple responsibilities that require the same amount of dedication and time. Imagine having the responsibility of a full-time job, children, a spouse as well as taking care of a sick loved one. The amount of stress and exhaustion that falls on the caretaker is tremendous and can cause serious health effects.

 Most caretakers push themselves too hard because they feel guilty if they are not giving 100% to all of their responsibilities. The guilt can cause caretakers to not take time off for themselves to relax and rest. Our bodies and minds need rest in order to function correctly. When we push ourselves to the maximum, we can cause harm to our bodies and our relationships can suffer.

 Caretakers, take Labor Day off. Ask a friend or relative for help and enjoy the day to relax. Your body and mind will thank you later. If you are alone and do not have anyone to reach out to, look into an adult daycare or a homecare nurse. Do not feel guilty about having a day to yourself. No matter what responsibilities and tasks we have, we are all still human and need a day to ourselves.

Friends or families of caretakers, encourage a day off for them. Volunteer to help and reassure caretakers that they deserve this day to themselves. Showing your support and enthusiasm will help ease the caretaker’s guilt and will give them a peace of mind.

When you’re a caretaker, you are a laborer of love. Your actions and decisions to provide care for a sick loved one all come from the heart. You deserve a day free from responsibilities to re-group and focus on your needs. Relax, rest and remember that having a healthy body, mind and attitude will allow you to be the best caretaker possible.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tags : , , , , , ,

The American Perception of Death

This photo was taken by jimmedia at www.flickr.com

Over the past 100 years, the word “death,” in American culture has almost become a politically incorrect term. Think about it. What do people usually say after a death? He is no longer with us. He has passed away. He is in a better place. Rarely, do you hear someone say, “he has died.” Why is this? Are we being sensitive to the subject, or have we become afraid of the word death?

 Different cultures and religions around the world have their own views about death. Most religions believe a spirit leaves the body after death and moves on to another place such as heaven or reincarnation. To acknowledge this act, most cultures have a strict ritual that takes place to insure the spirit has the appropriate journey to its final destination. 

Within the past 100 years, the process of how people live out their final days has changed. Before, loved ones would pass away in the comfort of their own homes and families. A couple of close family members were primary caregivers and they used their own medical cures and treatments rather than a doctor’s. The modern healthcare movement has placed more terminally ill patients in hospitals instead of the patients’ home.

 With the rise of hospices in the nation, it seems Americans are trying to learn how to accept death rather than defeat it. A hospice is designed to treat the patient, not the illness. This simple idea relieves a lot of stress from the patients and their families because the victory in a hospice is not beating the illness, but accepting it, along with the death that follows.

 Getting to the point of accepting and understanding death is something that can only be done through communication and education. Having someone close to share your emotions and beliefs about death without sparking a debate can help you become more comfortable with the subject. Also, educating yourself about cultures’ perspectives of death can help enrich your understanding and help bring closure.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tags : , , , , ,

Houston Hospice 2011 Spirit Award Dinner Set for October 26

Kelli and Eddy Blanton

Kelli and Eddy Blanton

Kelli and Eddy Blanton are co-chairs for the upcoming Thirteenth Annual Spirit Award Dinner to be held Wednesday, October 26 at the River Oaks Country Club. The Blantons chair numerous events throughout the year and Houston Hospice is honored to have them lead us to another record breaking fundraising event. This is particularly special because the award is the Laura Lee Blanton Community Spirit Award, named so for Eddy Blanton’s mother.

The Laura Lee Blanton Community Spirit Award was created in 1999. Houston Hospice named the Community Spirit Award in honor and memory of Laura Lee Blanton who dedicated herself to making a difference in the community. The recipient(s) of this award support a wide range of community efforts through their energy, enthusiasm, time and resources. Past recipients are Jack S. Blanton, Janet and Ernie Cockrell, Dr. John P. McGovern, The Honorable and Mrs. James A. Baker, III, Dr. Richard E. Wainerdi, Mary and Tony Gracely, Connie Baird Linbeck, Harriet and Joe Foster, Jes and John Hagale, Margaret R. Caddy and Sarita and Bob Hixon.

This year’s Laura Lee Blanton Community Spirit Award will be presented to Maureen and Jim Hackett. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to present this award to Maureen and Jim, who have not only been friends and supporters of Houston Hospice, but of the entire community,” remarks President & CEO Jim Faucett.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tags : , , , , ,