In my world of being a Hospice Nurse Aide, is unpredictable, exciting, disappointing, frustrating, and rewarding underneath my title. Where do I start? The traffic in the Greater Atlanta Area is horrible!! I burned so much gas sitting in traffic while listening to 104.1, the Fish radio station. Eating behind the wheel so I will not have to take a bite out of my patients or experience a black-out moment because of starvation and dehydration from a lack of fluids. Other drivers honking at me to drive faster because they are running behind or just being impatient. The danger of another driver hitting me because they are on their cellphone chatting about the latest reality show Bachelorette on ABC. Of course, my 4runner named Patsy doing the best she knows how to do getting me to all my patients in a timely fashion. Oh, I forgot to tell you, Patsy’s A/C went out so I’m sweating the whole way through to journey of Atlanta’s traffics. My patients are the greatest rewards of my entire workday because they light up when they hear me drive into their driveway or hearing me walk through their home.
Many of my patients are in various stages of hospice and palliative care. Many of my patients when I get them, they are ambulatory, alert, still going out experiencing life, such as shopping, going to the hair salon, and going to lunch with family and friends. I know there is a misperception that “all hospice patients are dying right at the drop of a dime”. However, this perception is untrue. I have seen patients live many years on hospice as long as they are meeting the criteria to be eligible for hospice services it’s not a problem, most of the time. As my patients transition from being ambulatory in some cases it very challenging for the patients and the families. On the other hand, I get patients who are truly on a down-slipping slope of death. All my patients do experience the “reviewing their life choices” when they were younger through the present moment. A lot of them will experience depression, sadness, anxiousness, frustration-anger about why they are dying now in the stage of their life. Moreover, many time I play the role of outlet to display their emotions because they would not show their emotions to their caregiver out of fear of what the outcome would be. I tried to lightening up the mood in their room by singing to them, dancing with them, styling their hair after I have given them a bath. We would do our “gossip-girl/guy” episode on the celebrity’s scoop in the entertainment world. I pray with them if they needed spiritual healing. Sometime, I would play cards games and I also had a chance to learned how to play chess, for the first time.
My ministry is a two-fold of caring for the patients and the caregivers. Many time, caregivers are forgotten. No one look after the caregivers because everyone focus is on the patients. However, if the caregiver is not feeling his/her best how can they service the best care to their dying loved one. So, I take the time to talk with their caregiver to make sure they know I see them. Sometimes, I will stay longer because the caregiver need a break to whatever she need to get done. Unfortunately, the caregivers I have met, they do not have support system for them. Caregivers, I have spoken to says, “They feel trap because no one will come to relieve them to take an hour nap, go to the doctor, got to the dentist, or even go grocery shopping.” It blows my mind because I see it happens all the time. So, I make the effort to take care of the caregivers also.
Caregiving is a ministry and everyone need to play a part in it for sake of everyone in the situation. On the other hand, I have seemed family working together to support the caregiver whenever he/she needed a break. It is not normal for anyone to be trap or feel trap in a house because people will react in an unhealthy and irrational way. As a Nurse Aide, when I do see the caregiver getting frustrated because she/he is not getting relief nor understanding about progress of the disease or cancer. I tried to give a positive perspective about the reason the other siblings or other family members are not involve, such as “they might not be able to handle seeing their mom or dad’s cancer taking their health away bit by bit.”
My life as a Hospice CNA is also very emotional because I have lost many patients. I go through the same grief stages as the family does. I have built close relationships with my patients and their family over time, I shared my life events with them. They know about my immediate family members’ names. I have shared my successes and failures with them so, I am always going through stages of grief when I lose a patient. However, I know they are in a better place because I pray with them the Lord’s prayer. Working as a hospice Nurse Aide, I have learned to stay out of family conflicts and other family dynamics of the household, meaning how the home is ran. I stay in my position as the hospice Nurse Aide. It’s very tempting because family members and caregivers will tell me things that I should not know and has nothing to do with my job description. I have learned from other fellow nurse aides’ mistakes to stay out of it completely. I have also learned that every patient, every family, and every caregiver grief differently. I have to reminds myself to keep a “No judgement” policy.
Name: Jillian Simpson CHPNA, CNA , CMA
Owner of Zora’s Touch, LLC: The Gifted Caregiver
Located in Hiram, Georgia
Facebook page: @ZoraTouch