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Volunteer of the Quarter – Staci Cummings

Congratulations Staci Cummings, La Pine Heart ‘n Home Volunteer! We are so grateful for her service and huge heart for those around her!

Imagine this: you’ve been a Hospice Volunteer for a while. You’ve dropped off flowers from time to time, made some projects with the Youth Volunteers, and perhaps you’ve been in charge of birthday cards for patients. But then, a close friend comes on hospice services.

If you’re Staci Cummings, your volunteer style changes dramatically.

It began when a man named Doug put his wife Nancy (names changed for privacy) on hospice services after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Doug tried everything he could, and even took his wife all the way to Australia for experimental treatment. Eventually it became clear that Nancy’s disease was so advanced that it was time to simply make her comfortable and allow her to live out her days in Doug’s care with the support of Heart ‘n Home.

Staci was Nancy’s friend for a long time and she watched Nancy’s journey. She then referred Doug to our local Heart ‘n Home office. Staci lovingly volunteered for Nancy, only reporting a few hours here and there as a Volunteer and supporting Doug and Nancy as a family friend throughout the week.

One solemn day, Doug called Staci in a panic. He was in severe pain and needed to be rushed to the emergency room. Staci stayed with Nancy all day while Doug was at the hospital, where he eventually was diagnosed with end-stage liver cancer. Doug came on our services immediately so we could administer comfort measures. We helped to place Nancy in an adult foster home so Doug could trust she was taken care of. Staci took him to his paracentesis appointments, which were about 80 miles round trip. She did so with love and care and tenderness only a family member could, with the skill and expertise of a highly trained Heart ‘n Home Volunteer.

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Staci Cummings, La Pine Volunteer

Earlier I said that Staci would be most likely found making Valentine’s Day cards for patients or coordinating the Youth Volunteer projects. Staci ended up being at bedside as often as she could and we had planned to schedule an 11th Hour Training just for her. “I couldn’t do this for anyone else, but I have to be there for him,” she said.  She was able to be with him when he passed away.

We are thankful for Staci. La Pine is a better place with Staci in it, and our community benefits from her passion for hospice and caring for her friends and neighbors. I wish I didn’t know what it looked like when patients do not have someone in their corner- unfortunately this happens too often. Doug was not one of those people. Doug had a champion rooting for him until the end.

Joelle Brown
La Pine Volunteer Coordinator
Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care, LLC

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Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

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CAREGIVER’S BILL OF RIGHTS

I have the right to take care of myself.
This is not an act of selfishness.
It will enable me to take better care of my loved one.

 I have the right to seek help from others
even though my loved one may object. I know the
limits of my own endurance and strength.

I have the right to maintain parts of my own life
that do not include the person I care for,
just as I would if he/she were healthy.
I know that I do everything that I reasonably
can do for this person. I have the right
to do some things just for myself.

I have the right to get angry, be depressed, and
express difficult feelings once in a while.

I have the right to reject any attempt by my
loved one to make me do things out of guilt or anger
(it doesn’t matter if he knows he is doing it or not).

I have the right to get consideration, affection,
forgiveness, and acceptance
for what I do for
my loved one, as I offer these in return.

I have the right to take pride in what I’m doing.

 I have the right to applaud the courage it takes
to meet the needs of my loved one.

 I have the right to protect my individuality.
I also have the right to a life that will sustain me in times when my loved one no longer needs my full-time help.

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11th Hour Volunteering: Keeping Vigil with Patients at The Bedside

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As an 11th Hour Volunteer, I have had the privilege of keeping vigil with patients at their bedsides at the very end of their lives. The term vigil comes from the 12th century Old French term vigile, meaning “to watch or guard.” I embrace that implication that I am keeping watch over our patients. Other 11th Hour Volunteers I have talked with at Heart ‘n Home have told me poignant stories from their service keeping vigil. Our experience with patients as they are actively dying is incredibly rewarding. What a honor it is to be a presence when they are most visible. Hospice teaches us about what truly matters and how to live bravely and transparently.

Cicely Saunders, who launched the modern hospice movement, said this of our calling in hospice, “’Watch with me’ means, still more than all our learning of skills, our attempts to understand mental suffering and loneliness and to pass on what we have learnt. It means also a great deal that cannot be understood. Those words did not mean ‘understand what is happening’ when they were first spoken. Still less did they mean ‘explain’ or ‘take away’. However much we can ease distress, however much we can help the patients to find a new meaning in what is happening, there will always be the place where we will have to stop and know that we are really helpless. It would be very wrong indeed if, at that point, we tried to forget that this was so and to pass by. It would be wrong if we tried to cover it up, to deny it and to delude ourselves that we were always successful. Even when we feel that we can do absolutely nothing, we will still have to be prepared to stay. ‘Watch with me’ means, above all, just ‘be there’. I remember the patient who said of the people who had really helped her, ‘They never let you down. They just keep on coming.’”

This is what we do when we keep vigil as 11th Hour Volunteers. We are a crucial part of the team, even as we just watch. Being there is a great comfort to our patients, their families, and our Heart ‘n Home team. We have 11th Hour Volunteer Trainings in every area over the next few months. Please call your local Heart ‘n Home office and sign up with your Volunteer Coordinator. I am also available and would love to talk more with you about this fulfilling way to serve.

Sarah Poe, CPS
Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care, LLC

Hospice Youth Volunteer Scholarship Winners: Fruitland High School

Congratulations to the 2011-2012 Cicely Ambassadors for a very successful year of serving patients and your community, as well as all of the countless moments that will be not be forgotten.  A special congratulations to our scholarship winners from Fruitland High School:

  • Milly Davis ($1,500)
  • Kacie Gastanaga ($1,250)
  • Emily Tingey ($1,250)
  • Daniel Dahle ($1,000)
  • Jandee Carlson (1,000)

We are very proud of your successes and look forward to the 2012-2013 Ambassador Team who are already trained and volunteering.

Pictured Left to right: Todd Stice, CFO, Heart ‘n Home; Milly Davis; Jandee Carlson; and Kacie Gastanaga (Daniel Dahle not pictured)

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