Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nurses’ Perceptions of Hospice-Palliative Care Volunteers

What do you think surveyed nurses' perceptions would be about hospice-palliative care volunteers? The “American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care” reports results of such a survey:

1) Nurses attitudes and what they know about hospice-palliative care volunteers

As a hospice volunteer myself, I have found nurses in general to have positive feelings toward volunteers. Like nursing assistants, many nurses feel volunteers make their jobs easier. Survey results confirm this. However, nurses rated the value of nurses, family members, doctors, and pharmacists significantly higher than volunteers.

Regarding the training of volunteers, 73% of the nurses indicated that they were not sure or did not know what topics were covered, indicating a lack of knowledge about what volunteers are taught.

2) Tasks nurses felt volunteers should perform

The surveys revealed that 53% of the nurses felt that volunteers should know patient medical information, and 77% thought that volunteers should have the opportunity to provide input regarding patient care. In addition, 56% felt that volunteers should be included in team meetings.

Did these results surprise you or did you expect them? You can read more here about this survey on nurses' perceptions of hospice-palliative care volunteers.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes"
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Children as Caregivers: A Hidden National Problem (Video 2:54 mins.)

Most of us are aware of the millions of unpaid adult caregivers in America. But did you know that 1.4 million children, some as young as eight years old, are also caregivers? Most of their disabled or sick patients, usually parents or grandparents, have Alzheimer’s disease or cancer. Because these young people take on complex responsibilities early in life, they often miss experiences that most children take for granted. Sleepovers and after-school activities can be difficult when an ill loved one needs caregivng available at home. This problem is particularly prevalent in minority communities and among low to mid-income families.

A government study based on two national surveys by Mathew Greenwald and Associates reports that caregiving for young people can include, not only feeding, dressing, and medicating, but also toileting, bathing, and changing adult diapers. It is not unusual for these children to miss school in order to perform their caregiving duties. The emotional stress they carry can be even more harmful to them than the physical burdens. They are also more likely to be anxious and depressed.

You can view this video that gives more information about this seldom discussed problem of children serving as caregivers with adult responsibilities.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hospice and Nursing Homes: Loneliness and Being Remembered (Video 3:57 mins.)

The following includes an excerpt from my book, "Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes.” This chapter titled “Love Food” explores the importance of being remembered and other nourishment patients need to feel whole.

“Everybody at the senior citizen center asks about you all the time,” I read aloud to Jeannine (pseudonym) from a letter she had received earlier that week. “We still meet every week to play bridge and gossip. It’s not the same without you. People say you were the best bridge player. These days, even I’m winning games. Last week, we had our annual spring party. The last time you came, the two of us ate most of the cookies and didn’t feel embarrassed at all (smile). We sure had some good times together.”

Jeannine stopped me to explain everything, just in case I hadn’t understood what I had read. “See, I learned how to play bridge a long time ago when hardly anybody I knew was playing. My friend Laura taught me because she needed a partner to play with her. I learned as a favor to her and to make new friends. I guess I caught on fast. Next thing I knew, I was teaching her a few things. I remember eating those cookies, too. And they were delicious. We played pranks all the time. We were just a bunch of overgrown kids having a ball cracking jokes whenever we got together.”

Jeannine had been going to the center for sixteen years. Now, she was in a nursing home away from the buffet of fun they had created. But none of that mattered today. What mattered was that they still cared about her, and she had this cherished letter to prove it. She experienced a mental feast of enjoyment. I smiled, knowing her satisfaction was caused by something she had eaten, something called love food.”

© Frances Shani Parker

This video explores a patient's loneliness and the importance of being remembered.

Frances Shani Parker
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Terminal Illness: A Mother’s Day Tribute (Video 5:07 mins.)

This post is dedicated to mothers everywhere, especially those who are living with or have died from a terminal illness. The accompanying video is by raindancer808, whose hometown is New Orleans, Louisiana. Honoring her mother with this Mother’s Day tribute, she writes:

“My Mom is in end stage Alzheimer's, and I wanted to do something special for her on this Mother's Day. Even though she will never see this video, it is my way of honoring her, and spreading the message that Alzheimer's is a cruel and fatal disease. For more information, please go to this Alzheimer's Web site."

Click here to view a Mother’s Day tribute.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog