VITAS’ MARTHA KESSLER: Hospice Aides and Nursing Assistants on the Front Lines of Healthcare
By Martha Kessler, VITAS Healthcare // May 26, 2019
June 13-20 is National Nursing Assistants Week
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – When seniors’ health issues or functional capabilities worsen as they age, it’s entirely likely that they will require more care at home, whether they live in an assisted living center or nursing home, or whether they receive care from a hospice provider.
It’s also quite possible that the majority of their day-to-day care will be provided by a “nurse’s aide,” “certified nursing assistant” or “hospice aide.”
June 13-20 is designated as National Nursing Assistants Week in 2019, honoring nursing assistants and aides who provide up to an estimated 90 percent of nursing care, according to the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants.
Hospice aides provide day-to-day care
At VITAS Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, 35 percent of our 7,328 nurses are hospice aides—healthcare professionals who work side-by-side with other members of the VITAS interdisciplinary hospice team to bring individualized care to patients near the end of life.
Hospice aides often have the most frequent interactions with patients, caring for their essential personal needs (e.g., bathing, dressing, hygiene, personal care) and developing strong relationships with the families.
Each year, VITAS recognizes outstanding employees nationwide for their exceptional performance. In 2018, 94 hospice aides received VITAS’ top honors.
The aides’ nominations, as told by their managers, tell powerful stories of caring for patients:
“ … she spent three days in lockdown in the inpatient hospice unit during Hurricane Irma as part of the staff that looked after the patients who were hospitalized during the event.”
“ … he sees many patients a day, and he treats all of them as if they are the only patient he has. He cares for them with dignity and respect. Even when they can’t communicate with him, you can see the appreciation in their faces.”
“ … whenever she has visited a patient, a family will call and say, ‘Please send the aide who worked last night. She was outstanding. I was finally able to get some sleep.”
A “spirit to serve”
What do VITAS hospice aides say about their contributions to hospice care?
According to one 2018 VITAS honoree: “When I arrive at a patient’s home, my spirit is to serve. My approach is to smile and advocate. I let them know I am here for them, and whatever I can do to make things better, I will certainly give my all to achieve that. When my patients and their families thank me, I feel valued, accomplished and proud of myself that I gave my best and they embraced it.”
Be sure to say thanks during National Nursing Assistants Week to a hospice aide or caregiver who made (or is making) a difference in your life or the life of a loved one.
For more information about end-of-life care options, call VITAS Healthcare at 866-759-6695 or visit VITAS.com
– Martha Kessler is the patient care administrator for VITAS Healthcare in Brevard County.
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