Hospice Health Care, Dying to Be There
How would you like to die. This is the premise of my Hospice Health Care lecture. Of the several things I love to speak on, Hospice Heath Care is on the top of the list.
How we would like to die is not a usual topic of conversation. Yet some day, perhaps for ourselves or our family we will need to discuss this most difficult subject. It could be for the care of aging parents, a loved one who is entering the death and dying process, terminal illness experienced by a family member or our own impending death.
If you have a parent or loved one in a nursing home, skilled nursing facility, assisted living, or even in the home, how well do you want symptoms managed during the dying process. Symptoms like pain or respiratory distress.
The facility staff are not experts in pain management. They are not even trained in pain management beyond the most basic. Perhaps in some cases, it is even worse than that.
Consider a true life story of a patient from a different part of the state from where I currently work. As you consider this, remember, it could be you or your loved one.
A Hospice Health Care Story
My patient had severely contracted hands. (Common with some disease processes.) The problem was the potential for skin break down in the palms. More importantly, he had started experiencing pain. At least this was the first the patient told me of the pain.
I immediately went to the staff nurse at the nursing facility. This was the nurse that was responsible for his care during the shift. I told her that the patient was experiencing pain in the hands. She stated, and I will never forget this day and her words, "The patient always has that pain."
After discussing it with the hospice health care team, a treatment regimen was suggested and the doctors order obtained. All was well. Occupational therapy was able to get a guard in the hand and the risk for skin breakdown was eliminated. The pain was eliminated using a medicine that reduced the tension of muscles.
One day the occupational therapist stopped me in the hall when seeing me. She told how this patient had pain in the hands one day out of the blue. Part of my job in managing the health care of my patients was watching for how many times they got pain medicine. Yet the patient had received none. It had past and no pain was noted for each of my assessments for the next two weeks.
Then one day, the patient was quite vocal. I noted the patients respirations were at a rate in the low 30’s. This again goes to the question, how do you want to die. The nurse had just given his AM medicine. Perhaps she did not notice the respirations were at an alarming rate because she was so focused on getting her med pass out.
Needless to say she did give the Tylenol when asked to. Actually, she got it out allowing me to give it. Being impatient for managing pain, I could not wait in case she forgot or got busy with something else.
The problem was not solved yet.
I spent the next half hour doing the paper work meditating on how it was possible to have had two bad days in the past two weeks. What had I missed. If this was your father, or brother, sister or mother would you settle for anything less than a pain free existence?
This was my expertise yet I did not know. Remember that nursing and medicine is studied as a science but practiced as an art.
Then it came to me. Think about your grandma, did she have arthritis? Could she tell the weather by her pain? My grandmother could. And that was exactly what was happening. It was just before a rain storm and a snow storm that he had the pain. A call to the doctor, an adjustment in the pain med and the pain was gone, even with changes in the weather.
This is the hospice I talk about in my public speaking.
Would you like a public speaker on Hospice Health Care? Contact me for my availability.
How Much Water You Drink Can Affect Your Performance!
There are many hands that help in hospice. Some are of the families and friends. Some may be of strangers. Some of those hands may be yours. If you help those who are nearing the end of their live, you are among the many hands of hospice.