April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, a nationwide initiative that aims to help people across the U.S. understand the value of advance healthcare planning.
I want to tell you about why I'm passionate about advance directives, with a hint of my irreverent sense of humor to boot.
Advance directives should be filled out when we are healthy and lucid. They should not be something we hastily prepare as our stretcher is being loaded into an ambulance.
They don't affect our everyday lives or even take effect until we are unable to make healthcare decisions for ourselves. How many people end up being non-decisional at some point? I’ve worked at the JourneyCare’s Pepper Family Hospice CareCenter in Barrington for five years now, and I can say, without exaggeration, that everyone reaches a point wherein they are unable to make decisions for themselves. This appears to only apply to mortals. So far, I have been alive for 29 years and it appears that everyone is mortal, possibly even including myself.
I've found that there’s no better way to reminisce with our Jewish patients than talking about the major holidays and the memories associated with them. Beginning at sundown on April 10, through April 18 of this year, we will be celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover, also known as the Festival of Freedom.
The eight-day holiday commemorates the emancipation of the Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt. The Passover Seder is our traditional and family oriented ritual-packed feast. As we prepare for the upcoming holiday, I relish the old traditional songs I get to sing with our hospice patients.
Part of good communication skills is the ability to listen. It's especially true in my role as a hospice social worker.
Being skilled in communication and assessment is vital to my work. These skills allow me to best identify the challenges my patients and their families face, and ensure I’m able to meet their needs.
I may find a patient’s wife tearful as she recognizes the decline in her husband. Sitting with her, I'll place my hand over hers when she squeezes tightly. The act of joining her for a cup of tea and normalizing these recent changes is something I can do to provide her comfort.
Everyone has heard the words “social work” and “social worker," but do you know what they really mean? When I was growing up, I thought social workers were men and women who wanted to devote their lives working in underprivileged countries helping poor people enrich their lives.
Well, I grew up and learned I wasn’t completely wrong. And after 20 plus years as a social worker, I continue to learn everyday what social work and being a social worker truly mean.
As a hospice social worker I wear many hats. I am a noun, verb, adverb and adjective. I'm a counselor, confidante, advocate, researcher and resource. I'm a cheerleader, motivator, listener, party planner, wedding coordinator and dream maker.
Mainly, I am a humbled and privileged, invited guest into the lives of patients and families who I've been honored to know over the years. Here are a few of them: