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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Long-Term Care Staff Hospice Attitudes (Research, Video 1:33)

As a hospice volunteer in nursing homes, I knew that the quality of life residents experienced depended largely on the context in which it was given. By context, I mean the staff, training, resources available, and everything else involved in the healthcare process. Concerning hospice patients, it is important that long-term care staff members understand and respect the difference between curative and non-curative care and operate appropriately in caregiving patients. Some staff members may have difficulty making that paradigm shift and interfere with the natural dying process. Staff members‘ beliefs about dying and palliative care can impact residents’ care.

Long-term care staff research on beliefs, values, and attitudes about death, dying, and palliative care was done to identify any differences among various job categories and places of work at five facilities. Participants included 1,170 volunteers, clinical managers, and all categories of residential long-term care workers. Healthcare workers generally had positive attitudes toward more than half of the selected aspects of interdisciplinary practice and end-of-life palliative care for residents. Unfortunately, these were the negatives:
1) Attitudes were more mixed about ten other aspects and a higher percentage of respondents indicated negative attitudes toward them.
2) There were significant differences between upper-level professionals and managers (registered nurses, physicians, rehabilitation staff, and clinical managers) vs. the hands-on caregivers (nursing assistants, patient assistants, and volunteers) with regard to some aspects of caregiving the dying.
These results indicate the necessity of knowing and addressing healthcare workers’ beliefs about death and dying in the context of quality residential care in long-term care facilities. Patient assistants, volunteers, and nursing assistants can especially benefit from more ongoing training and monitoring.
This video features interviews with hospice team members who explain how hospice should work in long-term care facilities.


Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Senior Centers: Original Social Networks (Video 2:25)

September is Senior Center Month, but many seniors celebrate their participation at senior centers throughout the year. If you haven’t been to a senior center recently or never, they are primary havens for supporting seniors in various aspects of their lives.

Recognized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) as community focal points, senior centers have become one of the most widely used services among America’s older population. Over 11,000 senior centers serve more than 1 million members every day. Seniors who participate in center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic well-being. They thrive with a wide variety of programs.

Many consider senior centers to be the original social networks. They continue to keep up with growing demand by providing social interaction among people who create, share, or exchange information and ideas in a community setting. Centers build relationships among people who share interests, activities, backgrounds, or real-life connections. They don’t have to look far for non-virtual games, instant messaging, friends, chat rooms, circles, groups, followers, and no passwords to join.  Great lunches are often available, too!

Call or visit your local senior center. You may be surprised at the exciting activities you can join. If your local center has a website posted, you may be able to view contact information, the daily schedule, center news, and upcoming trips and events. These original social networks are still available for you! You can find more information about senior centers at the National Council on Aging website.


Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

End-of-Life Prison Care: Administrators and Hospice Volunteer Prisoners (Research, Video 4:19)

Thousands of men and women die in prisons every year. It is estimated that 20% of America’s prison population will be elderly by 2025. Many will eventually need quality end-of-life care. More prisons are establishing hospice programs for an aging prison population.

What do prison administrators say about these changing practices in caring for the terminally ill and their impact on the prison system? Research findings compiled through interviews with administrators from the central office of a state department of corrections reported them stating that the following influences impact prison end-of life care:

    1) Local prison culture
    2) Treatment vs. security focus
          3) Case by case consideration
          4) Public sentiment
          5) Budget concerns
          6) Conflicting views of service targets

This information provides a better understanding of how administrators can accommodate these changing practices in end-of-life care and infuse new practices in the future in the complex prison system caring for a stigmatized at-risk population.

Inmate hospice volunteers play an important role in many end-of-life prison programs. If a terminally ill patient is in prison, attentive caregiving can be especially beneficial when given by familiar faces of those who have also experienced the prison system. In this video, Kandyce Powel, executive director of the Maine Hospice Council, and members of the Maine State Prison hospice team share their perspectives on serving prisoners at the end of their lives:




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Older Adult Dog Walking and Older Dog Ownership Rewards (Research, Video 4:32)

Walking a dog is much more than a “business” trip. It’s commonly known that dog ownership can benefit older adults in terms of physical health benefits. But dogs can also promote a sense of community and neighborhood that expands older adults’ lives socially. Dog walking serves as an ideal activity for encouraging these opportunities.

A study including random adults over the age of 50 focused on roles of dog ownership related to 1) a sense of community and 2) neighborhood-based recreational walking. The investigation was done  through telephone and postal surveys. Frequent dog walkers were more likely than those not owning a dog to report a heightened sense of community and more neighborhood-based recreational walking. These older adults may benefit from these results through healthy aging. 

Now, what about older dogs? Did you know that they have ageism problems, too, just like humans? Most people in the market for owning a dog ignore the older ones. Usually, they want a cute puppy or young dog, not a dog that might die within a few years. Who understands dog ageism problems better than older adults? Diane and David Pierce decided to do something about this problem by creating Senior Dogs 4 Seniors. This rescue center brings older adults and older dogs together in win-win partnerships that give dogs the homes they need while giving older adults the dog ownership benefits. In addition, Senior Dogs 4 Seniors supports those who foster and adopt dogs by providing ongoing home visits and other resources that may be needed. This video features highlights of this dynamic program.




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hospice Volunteer Vigil (Video Interview 3:46)



Hospice volunteers are being recruited daily and offering their services. People follow that path for different reasons. For many, it is a unique opportunity to serve patients at critical times in their lives. Hospice volunteering has everything to do with using good common sense and applying knowledge gained through ongoing training. 
When it comes to patients, service is about volunteers being there with them and improving their quality of life. Patients sense and appreciate their presence.

What a particular volunteer provides is important for a patient who doesn’t want to die alone. That is the reason many hospice programs are providing specialized volunteer vigil training. During vigil training, a volunteer is taught how to provide bedside support during the final days and hours of a patient’s life. Assistance for families is included. At some facilities, staff members also volunteer for vigil assignments. Vigils, which are based on a patient’s wishes, can include talking, praying, inspirational reading, playing music, performing rituals, touching and, of course, sharing silence. Reflecting the hospice philosophy, a volunteer vigil helps provide the patient with a more peaceful end-of-life experience.

In this video, Kaitlyn Maire of Central Okanagan Hospice House shares her vigil experience. She says, “I just wanted to be there for somebody to know that person didn’t have to be alone.”




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Should Ghost Bike Memorials Honoring Bikers Struck By Vehicles Be Removed? (Video 1:56)


Impromptu memorials honoring the dead have been around for many generations in America. These memorials often begin with a tragedy involving one or more deaths. For example, a child might be murdered or killed in a car accident. Within a short period of time, stuffed animals, flowers, balloons, cards, photographs, and other memorial displays begin to accumulate at the site where the crime or accident took place. A prayer service may be held there. The shrines and altars resulting from impromptu memorials touch many people in a personal manner and serve as powerful reminders of the deceased and the cause represented.

A ghost bike, usually a junk bike painted white and secured near the scene of a tragedy, is the memorial project of a worldwide movement for commemorating deceased or injured bikers struck down by motor vehicles. Appealing to both personal loss and moral sensibilities, ghost bike memorials have been displayed in a growing number of cities for several years. They are memorials personalized by loved ones and community members as they unfasten earthly connections with the deceased.

But this practice has not continued without controversy. Some people consider ghost bikes to be eyesores that should never be used in this manner. Others say there should be more rules in place regarding bike displays, maintenance, and removal. Concerns about ghost bike removals have been especially disturbing to those who want to commemorate deceased bikers. They say the memorials should also remain to remind drivers of important safety lessons, particularly with all the driving distractions that exist.

This video features various perspectives related to the Kelly Hurlbert ghost bike memorial. What do you think? Should ghost bike memorials be removed?




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.