This can be true whether you’re performing these duties as part of a paid skilled job, or as an unpaid/volunteer caregiving position like an untrained family member or close friend who offers to help with certain tasks.
The staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice appreciate all the work that caregivers provide, whether it’s a paid or unpaid role.
In some cases, Above and Beyond can provide some primary or complementary caregiving and other skilled services with a family caregiver. In other situations, one caregiver may offer round-the-clock care while the other may check in every few days for extra observation, more advanced medical procedures or even respite service.
Every care situation is different especially in hospice situations. Patients may have months, weeks or days remaining until their predicted death. They may be in good shape mentally but declining physically or vice versa.
They may feel overwhelmed by the stress of the experience or they might try to be calm about everything, or both feelings at different times.
Different points of view
In some respects, caregivers may even find the experience of working with hospice patients different than traditional patients. This also can differ from individual to individual but there are some definite areas that can be interesting and even enjoyable.
- Fewer medical restrictions. Health care providers may “ease up” a little on the dos and don’ts for hospice patients, such as diet or activities. Prior to being on hospice, a doctor may prescribe more instructions/suggestions to keep someone from getting sicker and hopefully recovering, such as avoiding crowds or only eating certain foods. Certainly, someone on hospice can still get a contagious disease like a cold or flu, but they, and their caregiver, may enjoy the relative freedom of being able to eat and drink what they want or go wherever they might want to think they’re physically able to visit. Traditional doctors also may not want to see patients on hospice as often or at all – they could refer them to palliative care providers or only see someone in an emergency.
- More interesting discussions. People receiving hospice care may become more philosophical or theological as they start thinking about what happens with death and if there’s anything beyond death from a spiritual or metaphysical side. This is because death becomes more of a pending reality rather than something abstract. While caregivers may or may not have complete training to answer these questions, a patient may still be interested in hearing their observations and past experiences with other patients. Since this experience is new to them, they might feel comforted by hearing that other patients often have had similar questions and concerns about what’s ahead. People also may want to take the time to tell their life stories, which can be interesting since everyone has unique backgrounds.
- More opportunities to meet and help family members. A hospice caregiver often is with a patient for an extended period of time while family or friends may cycle in and out. So the caregiver potentially can get to know them as well. A patient may enjoy having family around and their health and mood may be uplifted. Family members also may give some insight into their lives. For a nurse or similar caregiver, this could be useful information to help them treat them better. Your presence there can provide high levels of comfort and security that the patient will appreciate, as well as their families. You may have been through this experience before with other patients, but it’s all new and confusing to others. You can even provide strategies of ways to stay emotionally strong to family members who may feel stressed and overwhelmed. They may gain some confidence to help and understand what’s going on and understand what they’re feeling, and the person receiving hospice care will also appreciate that family members don’t feel as overwhelmed.
- Excellent work experience. As challenging as caregiving can be some time for those who work with hospice patients, if you can perform this role well, you can do just about anything in the medical/caregiving field. Helping someone in declining health heading towards death can be a privilege that requires tremendous compassion and professional skills. Enjoying these experiences also can beneficial to advancing in one’s medical or nursing careers. Likewise, if you have a difficult time with the emotion, it might let you know to take another route in the industry that doesn’t involve as much death and dying.
A caregiver can also be a great resource for patients and their families. They can give information about things like support groups or suggest different skilled people they know or work with such as massage therapists, occupational therapists or physical therapists.