My Journey with Hospice

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I get asked a lot why and how I chose the hospice field, especially considering I am a very emotional person. So today’s blog is going to go into detail about this as well as talk a little about what I do for the hospice agency that I am currently volunteering for. I posted a video to my YouTube channel sharing a day in the life during a work day for the hospice agency and explaining what I do and I will have that linked below.

So, let’s go back to 2014. I had just gave birth to our second child and finished my certificate program for business administrative information. I went after this certificate because I was working in retail and thought it would help me but this was not the route that I wanted to go. I just did not think that being pregnant and soon having a newborn that I would be able to handle the stress and workload of an actual degree program and the commitment that goes into it. In May of 2015 I ended up handing in my keys and became a stay-at-home-mom. Once we got into a routine I decided to go back to school for the degree I originally wanted to go for. So I started my AAS of Human Services program.

When I started this program I knew that I would have to do an internship before I could graduate. I had already chose the field in which I wanted to do this internship and was ready for that moment to come. In August of 2017 I started the semester where I was doing my internship and it did not go at all how I thought it would. During the first week of classes we had a chaplain from a hospice agency come in to talk to us about her job, what she does, how she serves her clients, etc. She shared that she knew we were in the internship semester and that her agency was looking for interns and could really use the help. It definitely was not something I wanted to do or was interested in.

I applied to five places in hopes that I would her back from one of the domestic violence agencies. I wanted to work with victims of domestic violence due to my past and the experiences I had. I knew that my experiences would help me help people that had gone through similar things. I had applied to two domestic violence agencies, child protective services, the hospice agency, and two other places.

I ended up applying for that hospice agency because I knew I had to get an internship before the cut off to stay enrolled in that class and graduate on time. I never heard from the domestic violence agency. In fact.. the only place I did hear from was the hospice agency. As much as I did not want to do it, I knew I had to. To say I was anxious was a definite understatement. I do not do good with movies, funerals, anything like that.. so how I am going to handle this hospice internship.. I had no idea.

The first couple of days were easy. I toured the office and met the team. I started out by shadowing the social worker for a few days, getting an idea of what her day to day was like. I then shadowed the chaplain, the nurse, and the aide. I was able to see what they did and how they interacted with the patients and their loved ones. To get an understanding of the whole picture. After I shadowed the entire team I spent the rest of my internship with the social worker learning more about her role and how she finds resources for patients and their families.

The end of the second week I went with her to an intake meeting and I sat there as the nurse and social worker spent time getting to know the patient – what their diagnosis was, their medical history, family history, religious background, funeral plans – to come up with a plan of care that was unique to that patient and their needs. I did not really talk much during this meeting, I sat there taking it all in, witnessing the interactions. The patient starts talking about his recent diagnosis and he did not know whether he was nervous, angry, sad, anxious. He was not able to process his emotions at that point. He was asking for help on how to get through his emotions and the different stages of grief. Out of nowhere I get this overwhelming feeling that this is exactly where I am meant to be, these are the people that you are supposed to be helping.

From that moment on my attitude towards my internship changed. I took it more seriously, put in more effort to learn more about the documentation process, the office flow, the different interactions with families and the patients. I learn better in a hands-on environment.

At this point I had already applied for and been accepted into the Bachelor of Human Services degree program so once I finished my associate program I jumped right into my bachelor program. I graduated with my Bachelor of Human Services degree in May of 2019. I told myself I was done with school. I wanted to focus on family, especially since we now had our third little one and life was even more chaotic than it was previously. My plan was to take some time off and apply for my masters program when I was in a better spot to be able to handle that commitment.

In June of 2019 I decided I wanted to jump into the Bachelor of Social Work degree. So in January of 2020 I started that program and I believe I am now nine classes away from graduation. As of right now I am unsure if I will go back for my masters degree. I am happy with where I am right now. So, if that happens it will be when my youngest is a bit older.

Late last year I saw a post on the Nextdoor app about a hospice agency needing volunteers. I applied, did my training.. and so that’s what I am doing now. I volunteer my time and currently my tasks are making bereavement calls and tuck in calls. Bereavement calls are where I contact family members/friends of patients who have passed, making sure they are doing well and that they are grieving in a healthy way. If I feel the bereavement counselor needs to reach out to them then I report that back to the office. Tuck in calls are weekly calls checking in with patients making sure they don’t need any supplies or medications, or have had any changes in symptoms/overall health/wellbeing. Again, I report these changes and needs to the office and make sure that I am documenting everything.

A lot of people don’t understand why I would volunteer my time when I am not getting paid. But honestly, I thoroughly enjoy this work. I am able to do it from home. The only thing I have to leave my house for is to send out my forms when I am done. Not to mention it is experience on my resume. Jobs want you to have experience when they are interviewing you, so why not get it this way? It’s 6 hours a week that I am working, that’s all. And so many of my patients and families that I talk to are so appreciative of my time and thank me every time I talk to them. That is, honestly, enough for me.

You can watch the video here and see more of an idea what my day looks like when I work. I’ve got some clips of that, plus me explaining what I do. It goes hand in hand with this post, so yeah.. go check it out!

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