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The importance of a hospice team

Talking about being a hospice nurse

by Valerie Hartman
Complementary Therapy Nurse

I went to a holiday gathering with a friend last month. I was introduced as a hospice nurse and I found myself, once again, explaining that hospice work is not such a sad profession.

“Oh, that must be so difficult.”

“You do the work of angels. I admire what you do. How can you do that everyday?”

Answering hospice questions in an atmosphere of celebration is always a challenge, I rarely elaborate instead I answer a question simply, “Hospice is very important and meaningful work.”

I was drawn to hospice nursing at a young age for personal reasons and over the course of many years rediscovered the value of hospice care for professional reasons. Two unique principles to hospice care distinguish it from other areas of healthcare:

1.)  The ‘Hospice Philosophy of Care’
Recognizes that body, mind, social and spiritual needs—‘whole  person’ care—can provide the best opportunity for peaceful life closure, free of pain, anxiety and symptoms, with clarity and spared indignity, and with meaningful experiences during the transition.

2.)  The ‘Hospice Interdisciplinary Team Approach to Care’
Hospice care is  driven by a professional team that puts the needs of the patient and the family first. In this ‘team-working’ environment lies an opportunity to observe medical and holistic interventions that together bring peace to the mind and comfort to the body.

So to more fully answer the questions that arise socially, how can hospice workers continue in the profession day after day?  Personally, I can do it with the professional and personal support of a team that I trust.  The team gives me confidence that I can provide information and treatment to both patient and caregiver that truly will make a difference. Together, all of us are caregivers of each other: patient, family member, physician, nurse, social worker, pastoral care, and others. We weave a whole experience that feels purposeful.  I believe that is one very important–and necessary–support system.

Through this blog, we all hope to share components of our experiences and to hear your experiences to better prepare and help all kinds of caregivers weave something meaningful of their own, with confidence and love.

I hope you find our blog unique, honest, educational, and a safe space to share feelings that are not always understood in other forums of our lives.

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