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Friday, September 23, 2011

Want Hospice Care? Refer Yourself. (Video 3:11)

How do you get hospice care? The usual response to this question is that you have to be referred, and doctors have to sign off to make it official. Many people assume this means a family member or a healthcare professional must initiate the referral procedure. Wrong. You can refer yourself.

Maria Hodges suffered for many years with emphysema. Eventually, her body deteriorated to a point where she knew she was dying and couldn’t handle it alone. She went to the Hospice & Palliative CareCenter in North Carolina and referred herself. Her biggest surprise was her discovery that they would treat her in her own home. This is Maria’s story about “the hospice touch” that made her feel cared for and safe after she referred herself:




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.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Intergenerational Volunteering Relieves Dementia Stress (Research, Video 1:38)


I watched them playing together, both mesmerized by the rolling magic of a colorful ball slowly passing between them. One was two years old, and the other was eighty years old with dementia. I couldn’t help but smile. They had discovered the bridge that eludes many of the wisest and most educated.

The bridge is that universal connection between two people that makes them one in the moment. Too often, it is assumed that people with dementia, who may not even recognize their own children, are no longer capable of truly connecting as volunteers for others. Thoughts of having them improving their quality of life while performing intergenerational service can easily be dismissed. That’s when we have to be reminded about the bridge. The Department of Humanities at Penn State College of Medicine did just that when they set out to research whether an intergenerational volunteering intervention could enhance quality of life for persons with mild to moderate dementia.

This research involved fifteen participants forming intervention and control groups. Volunteering in hour-long sessions with kindergarteners and older elementary students, intervention group members participated in alternating weeks over a five-month period. Data were collected and analyzed regarding their cognitive functioning, stress, depression, sense of purpose, and sense of usefulness.

Results indicated significant decrease in stress and improved quality of life in three main areas: perceived health benefits, sense of purpose, sense of usefulness, and relationships. Results didn’t mention the bridge, but I know it was there. That’s what the bridge does when appropriate opportunities are created for it to transform lives.
In this video from the Alzheimer’s Society (UK), Lesley, who has dementia, has been fortunate in discovering many bridges that improve the quality of her life. She discusses her previous work with children, her current volunteering with learning disabled adults, and the “lucky” moments that inspire her to be herself.


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.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ground Zero Poem: Hotel Room View

Frances Shani Parker

Like many others, I felt compelled to visit Ground Zero in New York City after the September 11, 2001 terrorists’ attacks on the World Trade Center. I requested a hotel room with a view overlooking the excavation. An aura of heartache permeated the air, while numerous memorial displays comforted those who sought healing. After taking this picture, I wrote these poetic reflections:

Ground Zero

Scattered images of causalities,
thousands of love notes
blanket a former battlefield.
Whispered memories,
flowered tributes coax
closure of doors left ajar by trauma.

From my hotel window, I watch               
the Ground Zero real-time movie
of a 21st century grave excavation
where the World Trade Center
stood and fell, a kindling target
for terrorists’ fires.

Hills with human remains
transport like treasures
to a Staten Island landfill.
Conveyor trucks beep
warning chants of danger
to a world in global doom denial.

I view the sixteen-acre hole
in the heart of a grieving nation,
listen to victims’ voices
share their haunting horror:
“We fought to live and love
trapped in a fatal inferno,
marooned in a tomb of ruins.
We nursed at the breast of fear
until our spirits were free.”

© 2002 Frances Shani Parker
From Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes


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


Friday, September 2, 2011

Training Hospice-Palliative Volunteers for Cultural Competence (Research, Video 1:42)

Hospice-palliative volunteers and other healthcare workers can operate with a higher level of confidence and efficiency when they display cultural competence during their interactions with diverse patients. This competency is greatly needed to foster increased participation of ethnic groups that continue to underutilize hospice-palliative services.

A study in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) examined the current state of culturally competent care. Using 14 hospice volunteers, researchers from the Department of Sociology at McMaster University did in-depth interviews with them to gain more understanding about their cultural competency status and challenges such as misunderstandings resulting in hurt feelings. Volunteers revealed the following in their responses to the questions:

1)   Volunteers with weak levels of cultural competence said they encountered cultural clashes with patients.

2)   Volunteers revealed that they needed more education in cultural competence as part of their hospice training.

3)   There was a lack of ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity among the hospice volunteers.

While this research was done with a small group, it serves as an example to hospice-palliative organizations and other healthcare institutions that cultural competence issues must be addressed. Ongoing staff education is a necessary component for the successful delivery of healthcare. In addition to improving patient-staff relations, eliminating cultural insensitivity and miscommunication will positively impact patients’ quality of life.

This video explores the importance of cultural competence training for workers in a cross-cultural healthcare environment. Examples of various cultural groups and how to interact with them are explained:




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.