Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ethics in End of Life Care, sounds fascinating, doesn't it?

Today I am jumping up and down for joy because I finished a four week online course on Ethics in Hospice care for a Management training program that I'm working on.  I expected the course to be fairly easy, pretty boring and to require minimal effort.  Boy, was I wrong!!

I am reminded that ethical decision making is at the forefront of what we, as hospice employees, do every day.  Being privileged to share in one of the most profound parts of any persons life,  the ethics involved in any life changing and some not so life changing decisions is of the utmost importance.

The hospice industry in general is often mis-perceived.  We are not agents of death, we do not shorten lives, we also do not intentionally prolong lives, although for many of our patients this occurs, probably as a result of an increase in quality of symptom assessment and management.  We do not take away rights, we advocate for everyone's right to live the best life they can within the confines of their illness.

So often we hear people say, "If only we had known about hospice sooner."  How many patients do we get that could have benefited so much more if only they understood who we are, and who we are not.

The greatest thing I learned from the course I completed today is the power of decision making and education.  I've come away with new ideas on policy making in regards to helping our patients self determine their own wishes and ways of educating our staff and the public on palliative sedation, which is NOT assisted suicide, it is allowing a patient who wants to just "sleep" through the distress that sometimes comes at the end of life and cannot be controlled any other way to make that determination on their own and to receive assistance with it.

What I would like any person reading this to know is that Hospice clinicians are not angels of mercy or angels of death.  We are just people who care about helping others to live life as well as they can within the confines of their illness.  Hospice patients drive, dance, dine out, exercise, travel, shop, attend parties and perform lots of other activities, often because of well managed symptoms.   Our patient's best interests are always at the heart of what we do for them.  We have discussions on at least a weekly basis of the ethics of this or that when it comes to our patients and/or their families wishes.  Our goal is always to help our clients achieve their own goals within the scope of our practice.

My thanks to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization for a course on Ethics that was engaging, eye opening and highly beneficial to my practice as a hospice clinician and manager.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My first day of blogging as related to my work at Hospice of San Angelo

This will be my first exercise in blogging as related to my job.   One of my visions for Hospice of San Angelo is for it to have it's very own blog that is contributed by many and offers up a wealth of information for the community that we serve and our staff who serve it.  As often happens, I am awake thinking about work.  This may not sound like a healthy practice but it's the way I process things sometimes.  Today is one of those days.

Blogging for our hospice is one of the many facets of my personal vision for this organization.  I can't say that it was my idea, and certainly we are not the first hospice out there blogging.  I do think it's an excellent way to give more in depth information to the people who need it.  I also think it's a great way to give kudos to our staff who are out there everyday making sure that our patient's and their family's needs are met to the best of our ability.

I hope that our staff will share their ideas for this blog and especially for the forthcoming "official blog" of Hospice of San Angelo.  Currently we are in the process of working with some volunteers who enjoy blogging and are willing to help us with this.  I look forward to watching this process develop and will probably blog about the process as it goes on.

For today, I want to thank all of our staff, volunteers and board members (who are also volunteers) and express my most sincere gratitude for the hard work and dedication that happens here everyday.  I never thought I would be one who loves my job, but I do.  It's not easy, I never have enough time in any day to accomplish all that I would like to, but this may help.  I tend to express myself much better with written word than in person and look forward to the opportunity to do just that!

If you are reading this, Thank You!!  I hope you look forward to the words to come as much as I do.