by Patti Moore
Are you distressed by the many negative news stories we’ve seen about hospice in recent days? I certainly am.
From the headlines last week in the Dallas Morning News - Frisco hospice exec admits overdosing patients ‘to hasten their deaths’ and make more money- to the report out this week from the Office of the Inspector General, Vulnerabilities in the Medicare Hospice Program Affect Quality Care and Program Integrity: An OIG Portfolio, which focused on the very things that are, or are supposed to be the hallmarks of hospice care: pain management, patient AND family support, 27/7 care availability and provision of the 4 levels of hospice care. What did they find? That “hospices do not always provide needed services to beneficiaries and sometimes provide poor quality care. In some cases, hospices were not able to effectively manage symptoms or medications, leaving beneficiaries in unnecessary pain for many days.”
Dying patients who are in pain and are left untreated is part of the reason Dr. Cicely Saunders started modern day hospice 40+ years ago. It is part of the reason I went into hospice 30+ years ago; to relieve pain and suffering and support patients and their families to live fully and comfortably until death. It is unthinkable to me that a person in pain would not be aggressively treated, as the report suggests “…for many days”.
Then, the idea that someone would knowingly give patients overdoses to hasten their deaths to make more money is beyond my wildest imaginings. And yet, it is happening. Certainly, this type of behavior is rare, but I have to wonder: if your boss told you to give a patient an overdose to speed up their death in order to make more money, would you do it?
That is the issue that troubles me most. Unfortunately, there will always be people in the world – and sometimes in positions of leadership - who have no morals or ethics. But what about the good people who work for them? What is the best course of action when you’re asked to do something that goes against your values/ethics/morals?
As an evolved and morally aware species we’re capable of noble heights – and abysmal depths. The darkest of those depths have been sounded in times when people turned away from what they knew was right to “follow orders”. As the signs in the airport say, “If you see something, say something.” Ultimately, we’re each answerable for our choice to speak up or to stay silent when we see something that cuts against our founding principles and our mission.
If you are a hospice worker and you are told to do something that goes against your better judgment, don’t just follow orders. It is your legal responsibility as a licensed nurse or doctor or social worker to question any illicit activity. It is your ethical responsibility as a healthcare worker to do what’s in the patient’s best interests. And it’s your moral responsibility as a human being to treat your fellow beings with compassion and dignity.
Our modern day Hospice founder Dame Cicely Saunders
WORTH READING/ WORTH WATCHING:
This delightful story reminds us that age really IS just a number - and if you’re a mermaid click here, numbers don’t count.
“Vicki Smith shrugs off signs near the mermaid dressing room. Are you show ready? Hair and Makeup.
"I don't wear all the makeup. It doesn't do me any good," says Smith. "I just put on tights and a swimming suit."
Being a 78-year-old mermaid has its perks. She is free of some rules. But her self-deprecation betrays the grace of this great-grandmother with a pixie cut.”
The Zen Hospice Project has been a shining light to many of us who looked at its thoughtful, compassionate and spiritual approach to caring for those at the end of life as an inspiration, setting the bar high for hospice. Now, it’s closing- because of a falloff in donations. In an area as chockablock with multimillionaires as is San Francisco and its surrounding environs, this is a crying shame. Will some deep-pocketed Silicon Valley type please step up and lead the charge to save it? Let’s hope so.
It is hard to think of another profession with such constant exposure to dying. Yet, as intense and exhausting as hospice care is, you seldom hear any of the doctors, nurses, aides, social workers and bereavement counselors at the Hospice of the Western Reserve describe the job as grim, sad or dispiriting. Instead, they tend to portray the work as deeply fulfilling, gratifying and, perhaps most counterintuitively, life-affirming. And in working in the presence of imminent death, they all say they have witnessed sights that defy expectation or explanation.”
Our last wishes are the distillation of what mattered to us in life. Making last wishes come true is one of the things creative hospices do so brilliantly. What would your last wishes be? This hospice patient wanted to go wine-tasting:
“Peltzer Family Cellars donated the wine and patio for Gude and her friends. Grapeline Wine Tours provided the limo bus and a local makeup artist stopped by Gude’s home before she spent the evening at the winery, said Michelle Wulfestieg, executive director for the Southern California Hospice Foundation.
“It’s really meant to be a time of celebration to honor her life and what she contributed to making other people’s lives better,” Wulfestieg said. “Fulfilling a wish or meeting a need is extremely important for all of our patients. It’s about giving them that quality of life and the sense that each moment matters,” she added.”
If you love music, you’ll understand this last wish…
Bravo to Hospice of the Chesapeakefor this stellar outreach effort!Our hospices bring value to the community when we step up to lead the conversation in areas in which we’re highly knowledgeable:
“Every day, people in our community make decisions during a health crisis, burdened by a desire to do right by their loved one while not knowing exactly what that would be. Life altering medical choices or dealing with loss are not popular topics of discussion around the dinner table. Normalizing that conversation is the reason behind the revolutionary idea of offering a free day of learning to anyone in the community who wants to be more informed and better prepared in the event of serious illness or loss. The Caring for the Continuum of Life: A 2018 Healthcare Symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 3 at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland. Hosted by the Chesapeake Life Center, Hospice of the Chesapeake and Chesapeake Palliative Medicine, the symposium will address topics in three educational tracks as well as provide opening and closing speakers.”
A beautiful story of compassion paid forward at Hope Hospice’s Camp BraveHeart:
“NEWPORT — Forrest Ficke lost his father, Charlie Ficke, in 2007 when he was six years old.
On Friday, Ficke was in the woods of North Scituate. Hope Hospice & Palliative Care Rhode Island’s Camp BraveHeart, a summer camp for children grappling with loss and grief, is located there. This summer marks the first in which the 18-year-old Ficke attended the camp as a volunteer instead of a camper. In a phone interview with The Daily News, the Newport resident shared stories of his experience with Camp BraveHeart and the impact his father’s life and death had on him.
From the age of 6 to 17, Ficke attended the two-day camp every summer, he said. Camp BraveHeart served as a haven for Ficke in the aftermath of his father’s death, and he wanted to give back when he came of age to volunteer.”
HIGH PERFORMANCE COACHING CORNER tm:
Caring is the underpinning of success for me. I may not always agree with what is happening around me, but when I’m living my best self, I can still care about the people themselves even when I vehemently disagree. Caring doesn’t mean you have to always concede or give in to another or be deferential to others over yourself. When you show you care, you are showing your love and there is nothing better than that.
Caring is also about accountability. When you care enough to hold someone to their word or follow through with consequences when they don’t live up to their or your expectations, you are demonstrating your care. That may be the most difficult type of caring.
Consider this question: Who cares about YOU and who do YOU care about?
When people KNOW you care, they will go above and beyond for you. Show them and even say the words: "I hope you know I care about you!", try it tonight, then feel the Love!
This elite, intimate group coaching is powerful, challenging, open hearted and transformational. Check out the link below! Hope to see you in the Group this fall, 2018!
The Watershed Group
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