Here is an excerpt from an article written on the Delaware Hospice website, about the experience of three Delaware Technical Community College students, Crystal Cobb, Dana Ayars and Victoria Hines, working at the Delaware Hospice Center. It is important to consider how they helped a man who lost his wife of 55 years; not through medicine, but honest heartfelt care.
Crystal noticed that “Therapeutic communication is critical here. I remember one day when we met a gentleman on the grounds outside. He was about to lose his wife of 55 years. It was hard to see what he was going through, but I think he needed someone to talk to and it felt good that he found us and opened up to us. That was a valuable experience.”
Victoria remembered that day. “It made me realize that besides passing meds, you’re a support person. Ms. Vonasek asked if she could just give him a hug, and he said he would take anything he could get. It made me cry. It was sad to see, but I realized also that he just needed someone to talk to. Nursing was no longer about the medications, but just about being there for him, because he had no one else.”
Crystal said, “We all ended up giving him a hug. He was crying, but he opened up to us which was really something for a man to do. It felt good in the end, because at least we made him smile. We all gave him a hug and he said his wife would be so mad if she saw him out here hugging these pretty girls! When you experience the support side of it, instead of just the person at the end of life, it brings it all into focus how important this discipline is as a whole. I also was so impressed one day that we entered a room where the patient was no longer coherent and we realized the Center’s staff was playing country music for him. They had taken the trouble to know that he liked country music and made sure it was playing for him, even though he was no longer communicating. That’s so important and really touched me.”
Asked what impact their experiences at the Delaware Hospice Center would have on their career, Victoria answered, “I have a totally different perspective now. No matter where I end up, I will have a different attitude when dealing with a person at the end of life and their family members. I will pay more attention to what they’re going through. In fact, coincidentally, the day after I first visited the Delaware Hospice Center, my grandmother’s doctor advised my family to consider hospice care for her. I felt so much better about that than I would have, just from this brief exposure to this wonderful care.”
Dana agreed, “I expected a typical facility, with med carts rolling around and nurses running around. It wasn’t like that at all. It was like a home, with families cooking in the kitchen. A volunteer baked cookies and passed them out. It really changed my perspective completely.”
Crystal said, “I think it has changed my whole outlook. Before coming here, I would have said I didn’t want anything to do with it; I wouldn’t know what to say to people in these situations. Also, as far as my nursing career, I would have never considered going into hospice. But seeing it firsthand, I would absolutely consider it now.”
Story Credit: Beverly Crowl, of Delaware Hospice