With such a wide range of nursing opportunities at Lifespark, we look for ways to help people understand each role, whether it’s in hospice, private-pay, home health, or another area. It’s why we’ve put together a series of “Career Close-Up” blog posts, spotlighting the many nursing roles at Lifespark. Hopefully, one of them will spark you.
In our last Career Close-up, Christie Diwi, RN, talked about her work as a Lifespark Community Home Care nurse. Don’t miss her story! And now, we take you into the world of Lifespark Hospice, where our team of caring professionals helps people live the rest of their lives more fully.
Meghan Ferguson, RN, is a Lifespark Hospice Care Manager. She’s happy to give us her up-close-and-personal impressions of what it’s like to be a hospice nurse at Lifespark. Here are a few highlights of that conversation.
In a few words, how would you describe Lifespark Hospice?
At every part of Lifespark, our model is about aging magnificently. As a company, we focus on your complete senior health, that means we encompass all aspects of the stages of your life. When you’re facing a terminal illness, hospice comes in to allow you to continue to age magnificently. We take you by the hand and guide you toward the end of your life.
Why did you want to become a hospice nurse?
I’ve been in the health care field for about 23 years. I started out as a nursing assistant. During my internship, I was chosen to sit next to a woman who was dying in a nursing home. She had no family. No one. And I got to be with her and hold her hand. I played soft music and made sure her washcloth was cool enough to keep her comfortable with a fever she was having. I got to do that. And she ended up passing away while I was at her bedside. I went running home to tell my mother about it. And my mother thought it had traumatized me, and maybe I would need to see a therapist. But I said, “No, it was the coolest thing I’ve ever gotten to be part of!” She was comfortable. She was at peace. And I got to be there for her when nobody else could be.
What do you love most about working in hospice?
I get to know my client on a more intimate level. You know — they’re at a crossroads. They’re coming to grips with their own life ending. And I’m there to kind of comfort them. It’s just beautiful. I’m there to answer their questions about death. People have different kinds of concerns. Sometimes they can’t get past their denial, or anger, or their feeling of “Why is this happening?” And some people are very open to what’s happening to them, so those conversations are different. You just meet them where they’re at and constantly mold yourself into each situation you’re presented with.
What else do you like about being on the Lifespark hospice team?
I enjoy the independence. I don’t like to be micromanaged, and that doesn’t happen here. I also like being the eyes and ears for the doctor, and how they appreciate that. I can suggest things to the doctor and easily get them done. I can say, “Here are the symptoms we’re experiencing. Sounds like a UTI. Can I get an order for antibiotics?” And it happens right away.
What kind of services do you provide for the family?
You’re there not only for the client, but for the family as well. And I educate,a lot. I talk about medication management and how to care for the person. I’m a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and a hug giver. Whatever the family needs, you know?
I recently had a client who was living in an assisted living facility. She’d been estranged from her children for 20 plus years. She was coming close to death, so I was attempting to contact her family. Through the help of a county caseworker, I ended up getting phone numbers for her daughter and son, but I wasn’t able to reach them in time. I finally ended up finding her granddaughter on Facebook. So, she was able to come see her grandmother, say goodbye, and come to peace. The son contacted me about ten days after the client’s death. So that’s one example of how I support the family. I try to give them one last opportunity — one last chance. There’s nothing bigger than losing your connection with a loved one because of issues that could have been solved.
Are there any differences between Lifespark and other places you’ve worked?
There are some differences. I came from a caseload of 32 clients on hospice. That was ridiculous. That’s a lot. And I nearly lost my mind. At Lifespark, they keep the caseload relatively small. About 15 people or so. Having a smaller caseload, you’re not rushed to get to the next one. You can manage your day easily. So, you can increase your visits and not feel like you’re rolled out thin and don’t have any control. That’s one major difference.
Also, we have good teamwork. We’re all here for the right reasons. We’re always willing to help each other out. And we have good communication with one another. We do a hospice huddle every morning, Monday through Friday, for 15 to 20 minutes. We hear announcements, and we do recognitions or shout-outs to one another. For example, I recognized one of our visit nurses for stepping up to be an aide because we needed one. It’s the little things that have big impacts that matter to a team.
What would you say to a nurse considering a Lifespark career?
Come on board! Hospice is a different creature of its own. You’re not hospital-based. And you’re not homecare-based. This is hospice. And it’s a sensitive, sensitive thing. You need to be able to be a good listener. Be supportive, compassionate. Be willing to maneuver things. Meet people where they’re at. And mold yourself into the situation at hand. If you’ve got your heart in it, come join us. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Interested in becoming a hospice nurse or exploring one of our many nursing roles? Explore on – we’re hiring and growing rapidly! Visit our career page and apply now