What Hospice Means to Me
By Brianna Veternik, MSW Intern, Hope Hospice
In mid October of 2018 I sat in a hospital room angry and very rude towards a hospital social worker discussing hospice with my dad. My dad didn’t need hospice, my dad needed to get better in the hospital so he could continue chemo and beat lung cancer, I thought. Like a lot of people the word “hospice” did not sit right with me, I felt like this was giving up, giving him an expiration date, etc. but I was wrong. My dad signed for hospice care and I was mad. So mad, I left the hospital room and punched a wall in the hallway. Logically, I knew it was his decision and he was tired. I knew going through chemo again would not have given the outcome I wanted, he wasn’t going to get better, he deserved to be comfortable and stop fighting the inevitable.
Understanding the situation still does not mean I was accepting, I knew what I could and could not handle so I was not there for his admission. My dad went to an inpatient hospice facility with the intent to stabilize him to return home. Although I was not there that morning for the transfer, I did come that afternoon, and I was at the facility daily thereafter. My dad went through emotional ups and downs, the staff was very helpful with calming him as needed and celebrating his life as needed. My dad was in hospice for 8 days, and in those 8 days we were blessed enough to see him as he was. He had some good moments, he was able to see friends and family and receive the support he needed.
Hospice was so good for my dad, but also good for his family. The staff not only helped him but helped us to help him, both physically and emotionally. The care of hospice is so individualized and person focused, it’s humbling and respectable care. My mindset did a complete 180 turn around in those 2 weeks of hospice being presented as an option and my dad passing away. I now know that hospice doesn’t have a time frame, but personally I was happy with my dad's fast progression, “short, sweet, and to the point” if you will.
My dad's hospice experience changed my understanding and opinion on hospice, so much so that I chose hospice as my first social work field experience in grad school. The staff I encountered with my dad's hospice situation were so helpful and person focused, I wanted to explore it more on a professional level. This led me to Hope Hospice. Getting a more professional experience working with hospice only solidified my change of feelings towards hospice. The end of life stage is so personal, so vulnerable for patients and loved ones, the hospice professionals who work with them are so adaptable, kind, and necessary. Going into the hospice profession is not for the faint of heart.
I enjoyed my time at Hope Hospice, through this experience I have gained knowledge and skills I’ll be able to take with me into my career. Thank you Hope Hospice Team for allowing me this experience, and for caring for patients and families in the extraordinary way you do.