This is my 29th year as a hospice social worker, and my 26th year with JourneyCare and its legacy hospices. I wish I had a dime for everyone who has ever said to me, “Gee, your work must be so depressing …” I would have a truckload of money and I might have retired by now! But I think it’s better this way: I love what I do, I have never found it depressing and I’m in no hurry to retire from it.
Being a hospice social worker demands a very full toolkit of both clinical and non-clinical skills. Sometimes people have misconceptions about what a social worker is and does, so when I walk into a patient’s home for the first time, I am very conscious of the need to quickly establish a rapport so I can explain my role on the team and patients and their families begin to share freely with me.
Beginning at sundown on March 30 through April 7 of this year, JourneyCare's Jewish Care Services team will be busy assisting many of our Jewish patients and their loved ones with celebrating the Passover holiday.
Every year, Jews celebrate the liberation from bondage in ancient Egypt during the holiday of Pesach (Passover). It's the oldest continuously celebrated Jewish festival and is observed for eight days. The ritual of the Seder is practiced on the first two nights, traditionally in the home. The word Seder means ‘order’ symbolizing that the rituals of the Seder are performed in a specific order, with a sumptuous feast being a centerpiece of the evening.
I was honored to speak at JourneyCare’s Decades Dance on Saturday, March 10. In addition to the fun ’60s theme, music and auctions, the event raised money for JourneyCare’s All About Kids pediatric program – a program close to my heart.
Our daughter, Sadie Elizabeth, was born on April 29, 2010, after an uneventful pregnancy. I say “uneventful,” because I experienced the typical pregnancy symptoms – tiredness, discomfort, slight nausea, cravings, etc. But nothing could have prepared me for her diagnosis.
Often-ignored but totally necessary, self-care is any action or behavior that helps us avoid triggering health problems and benefits us by improving our mental and physical health through better self-esteem, less stress and overall well-being. These behaviors help provide balance in an increasingly over-stimulating world. Self-care makes up an essential part of a healthy lifestyle that keeps us healthy, happy, and more in-tune with our minds and bodies.
Experts suggest we neglect self-care because it can be tough to make healthy changes and manage stress in better ways. Self-care is also sometimes associated with selfishness and lazy, over-indulgent behavior. This might make us feel guilty for thinking we need to take a break from our lives to do something that, simply put, makes us feel better.
My name is Colleen and this is my buddy Patches. We have the privilege of visiting JourneyCare’s Marshak Family Hospice CareCenter in Glenview as pet therapy dogs. We try to provide some comfort, companionship, physical contact and stress relief for hospice and palliative care patients, their families and visitors. Did you know that by giving patients and families something to look forward to, our visits can help improve their quality of life?
I will always remember my hospice patient’s dog, Jack. Jack was a medium-sized, furry mutt, with all the friendliness of a well-loved and trained dog. My patient was a man who was deeply loved by family and friends... and his dog, Jack.
As the patient was dying, Jack was lying awake with his head on his front legs, under the patient’s bed. The family told me Jack had been there over 24 hours and was refusing to come out to eat or drink. Jack and his human friend were inseparable in life. And Jack stayed there, under the patient’s bed, until the funeral home arrived.
His wife died. He is now a single parent to two young children. His daughter comforts him. She hugs him tight: “It’s okay, daddy.”
Other families in the room acknowledge, they are just like us.
Just like us, this family lost someone very dear and special to them. Just like us, they grieve. Just like us, they journey forward.
The message was simple, but powerful. “Thank you” are the words our supporters heard when they picked up the phone on Thursday, January 25 during the JourneyCare Foundation’s annual Thank-a-Thon. Volunteers from throughout our agency – the Foundation, Board members, leadership and volunteers – spent the day calling our nearly 7,000 generous donors from the WTTW studios in Chicago to express our gratitude for all they make possible.
Last December I had the pleasure of visiting a retired artist and teacher. His advanced prostate cancer left him with pain throughout his body, and his bladder spasms and infections had helped to slowly cease his social life. He was referred to music therapy services to elevate his mood and lessen social isolation, to promote reminiscence, story-sharing, and life review, and to refocus him away from feelings of pain and discomfort. As with all clients who I see for music therapy, I have the wonderful challenge of finding how music interventions can assist in easing identified symptoms. Knowing that the brain can only take in so much information at once, using Brian’s* preferred music held his attention and engaged him in enjoyable and meaningful moments, pulling his focus away from his pain. The perception of his pain and discomfort lessened as we sang together and talked about the music he loved throughout his life.
Looking to start 2018 off right? Become a JourneyCare volunteer!
Did you know Medicare requires that 5% of all patient care hours be provided by volunteers? JourneyCare is seeking volunteers to support patients, families, and staff so that, together, we can enrich lives through expert and compassionate care. Volunteers are an essential part of our team’s success!