Pet Therapy at Bereavement Camp: The Dog Days of Summer

JourneyCare pet therapy volunteers bring a variety of trained, furry companions to visit patients in their homes, assisted-living and care facilities, and our Hospice CareCenters. They may also comfort campers at Camp Courage, JourneyCare’s bereavement camp for children ages 6-13, who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

Twelve years ago, I was a patient at the Rehab Institute of Chicago (RIC). The day that I was transferred there was a low point for me as I’d hoped instead to be going home. As I settled into my new surroundings, I noticed a dog and its owner standing in the hallway outside of my room. Before I knew it, the dog was at my bedside, resting its head on the side of my bed and looking up at me with eyes of love. The dog was one of several therapy dogs assigned to work at RIC. To this day, that visit stands out as a turning point in my long recovery from major surgery and multiple strokes. As a life-long dog lover, I told myself that someday, when I had the time, I would train a therapy dog so we could bring the same peace and joy that I’d experienced to others.

From Camper to Counselor at Camp Courage

From Camper to Counselor at Camp Courage

Camp Courage is JourneyCare’s bereavement camp for kids who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

Twenty-five years ago, my dad's cancer returned. I was 9 years old at the time and didn't fully understand the magnitude of the situation. He declined quickly, and only four months after his diagnosis, he died. This trauma still lives with me today, but I have been able to live with it thanks to the support I received in the aftermath.

The most significant boost I received at that time was from JourneyCare. My mom immediately enrolled our family in their monthly grief support groups, and it was there that I learned that I wasn't alone in this world. While my experiences were unique — like anyone else's — I took comfort in knowing that there were other children that would be going on a similar life journey to my own.

Managing Caregiver Stress

Managing Caregiver Stress

I’ve been employed as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for the past 26 years. I never thought I would work as a CNA for this long, but when you have passion for what you do, it’s easy to find comfort in your work. It gives me great pleasure to serve the people within my community. If I can put a smile on someone’s face each day, that makes my life worth living.

But at times, there are occasions when being a caregiver can be stressful. To reduce stress when caring for others at JourneyCare, I first take the time to take care of my own well-being.

Singing Goodbye with Hospice Music Therapy

Singing Goodbye with Hospice Music Therapy

As a music therapist for JourneyCare, I was making a music therapy visit when a nurse from our hospice team saw me and asked me to play for another patient who was very near end of life.

Susan was still fairly young, a 66 year old woman who had suffered from multiple sclerosis. When I entered the room, she was lying in bed, had slightly labored breathing, and did not respond when I greeted her or said her name. She had family surrounding her, two sisters and a brother-in-law, who all very kindly greeted me.

Celebrating our Certified Nursing Assistants

Celebrating our Certified Nursing Assistants

This year, the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants celebrateed its 42nd National Nursing Assistants Week in June – and JourneyCare honored the invaluable contributions made every day by our outstanding team of Certified Nursing Assistants!

Our spectacular team of CNAs create a community of caring for our patients, their families and fellow JourneyCare team members every single day!

Music, a universal language in life and death

Music, a universal language in life and death

Drawing on their musical and clinical palliative care training, music-thanatologists use harp and voice to address physical, emotional and spiritual suffering at the end of life. Using music prescriptively, they vary the tempo and tone of music to respond to changes occurring in a patient's body, like a slowing of pulse and breathing, in the final hours of life. During their visits — music vigils — they alternate sound and silence to help patients and loved ones relax and rest.

Music connects us universally. Some will say that it is music that makes us human.

Anthropologist John Blacking in his 1973 book, “How Musical is Man?” bemoans that Western culture music has become the domain of the so-called “experts.” However, when examining the cultures he had studied, music was simply a part of a person’s everyday life.

Music is part of everyone.

All living humans have the tempo of their heart rate and the depth of their respiration rate. But as we die, these mostly lyrical and robust waves change; with a shorter ambitus, a gurgling texture overlaying the breath, and a barely perceptible pulse. How can the living relate to this change, especially we when we in our technology-driven culture, don’t see ourselves as experts in either death or music?

‘Project Runway’ alum Peach Carr talks JourneyCare’s fashion-forward fundraiser, Allstars of Project Runway

‘Project Runway’ alum Peach Carr talks JourneyCare’s fashion-forward fundraiser, Allstars of Project Runway

At Sharing Our Journey, we are thrilled about JourneyCare’s upcoming Allstars of Project Runway fashion show on Saturday, June 29! This fashion-forward event will feature five designers from TV’s “Project Runway” unveiling their 2019 collections at Theater on the Lake in Chicago. Proceeds will benefit JourneyCare programs for patients living with serious illness.

To share more about this brand-new event, we chatted with former “Project Runway” contestant Peach Carr, who will feature her couture in this unique event and serves on its planning committee. Here’s her inside look at “Allstars of Project Runway”:

How can grownups support grieving children?

How can grownups support grieving children?

Losing a loved one is difficult for anyone. For children, grief is experienced differently and every child grieves in his or her own way. As an adult, you serve as a role model to the children and teenagers in your life. By encouraging them to express their feelings, you can help them build healthy coping skills through the grieving process and for the future.

Learn how you can help the children in your life through the grieving process with these helpful tips in mind:

Hospice massage therapy: A gentle touch for body and soul

Hospice massage therapy: A gentle touch for body and soul

As a Massage Therapist for JourneyCare, some of the most inspiring patients begin as the most challenging.

I cared for a hospice patient named Bill, who was a very large man and a former horseshoeman. His wife Betsy called him, “My gentle giant.” I could see he was strong in his day, especially by his rough and calloused hands. He was fading now with the complexities of being bed bound for many years after a stroke. The right side of his body was lame and very constricted.

Betsy told me that Bill had done everything from farming to raising sheep, cattle and dairy cows — he had done it all. Both of them had been hard workers all their lives.

Veteran hospice volunteers: Each one a hero

As part of the We Honor Veterans partnership with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the Veterans Administration (VA), military veterans volunteer to visit JourneyCare hospice patients who are also veterans and have a special and meaningful bond that only those with military experience share.

Last year JourneyCare cared for nearly 1,200 veterans across our 10-county service area. Each veteran patient in our care has the opportunity to be honored by a JourneyCare hospice veteran volunteer. A brief but meaningful pinning ceremony is performed, and a certificate of honor is presented by a member of our Veteran Volunteer Advisory Council, which engages veteran-centric event planning, training and educational opportunities.

For the JourneyCare veteran volunteers and Veteran Volunteer Advisory Council members, the days, hours and minutes that lead up to a pinning ceremony for a veteran in hospice care invite contemplation. 

Our hospice veteran volunteers chose to serve a cause greater than their selves. They saw their country threatened. They signed up to confront the threat. They felt some tug, they answered some call, and they said, "Let’s go." That spirit that says, “When my country is challenged, I will do my part to meet that challenge.” 

jc-logo white