My experience with Seasons Hospice has broadened my worldview of the concept of end-of-life care. I’ve stepped away from my preconceived notions that hospice care is a morbid and depressing institution. Instead, my experience and training has converted my views into seeing hospice care as a comforting and relieving process.
Hospice care is not necessarily geared towards the preparation of death, but rather, calls for a different method of living. It is a time when the physician can step way from treating the disease and begin to treat the symptoms. At Seasons Hospice, the aim is to relieve the patients of their pain. Their medical treatments can terminate, and they can lead their last few months of life in peace.
What I found in my personal experience with hospice is the patient’s need for companionship. The patients inside these nursing homes seemed to rarely have any visitors. The nurses, submerged in an environment everyday where patients are deteriorating, soon become immune to their needs and to end-of-life care. Their jobs seems to just become routine. Each time I visited my patient, regardless of his inability to communicate with very little cognitive function, he was comforted by my mere presence. I would read him stories, and even played him the ukulele. Any type of companionship that I could offer seemed to induce a positive response.
My experience with my hospice program has been the most enlightening and rewarding opportunity, and I am extremely proud of the work I have done with my patient. I have grown to know and understand my patient, determine his interests, and produce an agenda for my visits that makes both of our time together more enjoyable. This program has reinforced my idea of what it means to be a good physician. The relationship I established with my patient went far beyond vitals or asking the same redundant questions about how they are feeling today.
Beyond the relationship I established with my patient, I felt as though learned a great deal about an area of medicine I had not known much of before. I learned that hospice was not about preparing for death, but rather, it was geared towards a different standard of living. Through use of music therapists, masseuses, and companions, their final months revolved around peace, comfort, and happiness. Although my patient unfortunately passed away, I could not help but feel as though I was able to positively influence his experience with hospice.