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.
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.”
On a recent Tuesday morning, Noreen, a JourneyCare volunteer at Pepper Family Hospice CareCenter, was sitting with a newly admitted hospice patient named Stephanie, to keep her company. Stephanie was a young mother in hospice care with four small children.
Stephanie expressed acceptance that she was very near the end of her life and shared her sadness that her children would forget what she looked like.
Stephanie told Noreen she had written cards and notes for her children, but she wished she could have professional photos taken so her children would have nice pictures to remember her.
We're celebrating National Nurses Week and all of JourneyCare’s extraordinary nurses! Social Worker Nancy Peter shares how JourneyCare Nurse Betsy Brennan exemplifies the dedication, expertise and compassion of our entire JourneyCare nursing team!
I was asked to write a blog about National Nurses Week and feel honored to do so. I’d like to share about an amazing Registered Nurse (RN) who works at the Pepper Family Hospice Care Center in Barrington, Betsy Brennan, RN, CHPN. Her experiences reflect so much of what nursing is about that it translates to all our wonderful JourneyCare RNs.
Barb had been an active, independent and social woman who was now bedbound in the home where she raised her family.
At 94 years of age, she primarily depended on her adult son and hospice team for her care. Barb’s family was planning to move her from her home to a nursing facility, which brought on anxiety as well as feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Her hospice care team recommended art therapy to help elevate her mood. I was Barb’s art therapist.
I recently provided a music therapy visit to a woman named Edith, a 91-year-old hospice patient with dementia and depression. When I arrived, she was reclined in her padded geriatric chair with her feet supported and a blanket covering her lap. Her eyes were closed, and she looked relaxed and content. The room was quiet.
Her spouse Chester was present and his face appeared tired and tense. When I offered them a music therapy visit, he loudly replied, “Yes! I think that would be good! You never know what she’ll do!”
He shared that his wife was a singer, and although we did not suggest or expect her to sing or otherwise actively engage in the visit, we hoped she would hear us and know she was loved and not alone.
“What can I do to help?”
That question often weighs on the minds of the parents or guardians of a grieving child.
Some children instinctually express their emotions through verbalization, art, music and play. Other children need guidance on how to express feelings of grief and loss.
“It is helpful to children when the adults in their lives provide opportunities to acknowledge the grief everyone is feeling,” The National Alliance for Grieving Children states. “It is also helpful when children can gather with peers grieving similar situations.”
Bereavement camp is a place where children can meet other kids who are facing grief, and are given the opportunity to bond and process loss with them.
Volunteering as a Reiki Practitioner at JourneyCare is an incredibly rewarding and sacred experience.
Reiki is an ancient Japanese healing technique and a form of alternative medicine in which energy is channeled from the practitioner to the patient to enhance and rebalance the system physically, mentally and spiritually to reduce stress, pain, agitation and fatigue. Reiki is facilitated using either a very light touch or no touch with hands slightly off the body, providing a therapeutic option for those who are in pain or unable to be touched.
Saturday, March 30, is National Doctors’ Day and we're letting our wonderful JourneyCare physicians know how much they are appreciated! Dr. Dana Delach shares her thoughts on why she is privileged to serve.
I am a medical director for JourneyCare. I have been employed with JourneyCare since 2016. Many of you are probably wondering what does a medical director do? I do a variety of things for the organization. I oversee three out of twenty-one teams for the organization. We have over 35 medical directors that serve over 1,295 patients in Chicago and the surrounding communities.
Life happens and for many of us that moment comes when the phone rings and suddenly our world is thrown upside down as we race to the rescue of a loved one or friend who has been diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness.
But you are not alone.