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June 03, 2022  |  News Category: Hospice News

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(Photo: L to R - Sylvia Dial, Vickie Freeman, Makayla Locklear)

Throughout the month of June, Scotland Regional Hospice will be joining organizations from across the nation in celebrating the work of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).

Hospice CNAs provide companionship and personal care to terminally-ill patients.  This personal care includes changing bedding, changing clothing, bathing, and feeding. This intimate interaction allows CNAs to form bonds with their patients.  The comfort and peace of mind created by those relationships often improve communication allowing the hospice patient care team to better meet patient needs and help patients reach their goals.

The initial meeting between a hospice CNA and a patient occurs during the most emotionally challenging time of someone’s life.  Even with the best intentions and the best possible care, personal care services during this time can be a bit jarring for patients when that care is being spontaneously provided by a stranger.  That’s why Scotland Regional Hospice nursing assistant Vickie Freeman says that the first interaction that she has with each of her patients is not about the illness, or even the care, but about the relationship.

“I always go into the home with a smile,” Freeman shared of her experiences.  “I listen to them.  I get to know them and then let them get to know me.  It’s really important to get to know the patient and for them to feel comfortable with me, to know why I’m there, and to know that they can trust me.”

A hospice patient can choose the frequency of CNA visits, so those receiving CNA services are usually visited more by the CNA than any other member of the hospice team. Because of the regular interactions between a patient and his/her CNA, the CNA is often quick to notice any changes in health, behavior, or comfort.  Any change, even a small one, can have an impact on a patient’s plan of care.

Unfortunately, late referrals and a general fear of hospice often affect a CNA’s ability to connect with patients impacting the care that Freeman desires to provide to her patients.  Hospice care is available to those with a life expectancy of six months or less, but many aren’t referred until the final days or even hours of life.

“Sometimes they come to us so late that they barely get to know us or don’t get to know us at all,” Freeman explained.  “If they are admitted sooner, it gives us a better chance to get to know them, to get to know their families, and to give them that love and comfort that they need until the Lord calls them home.”

Hospice care is not only provided to those nearing the end of life, the families of those patients also receive services from Scotland Regional Hospice.  There are professionals on the hospice staff that can provide emotional, spiritual, and bereavement support to the patients as well as their families. Scotland Regional Hospice’s compassionate CNAs are often involved in that care as well. It can come in the simple form of a hug, a conversation, a prayer, or a shoulder to cry on. They can also inform the family support team about those that may need a little help coping with the difficult situation of losing a loved one.

“They need to be relaxed when we are around,” Freeman said of the families of her patients.  “They need to know that we care about their loved one and we’ll do whatever we can to keep their loved one comfortable.  Our relationship with the family can be just as important as our relationship with the patient.”

Freeman, an 8-year hospice aide, is one of eleven CNAs currently providing compassionate end-of-life care for Scotland Regional Hospice.  Because of the nature of the work, each of them view hospice care as something bigger than just a job.

“This is my passion,” Freeman said.  “I love this work.  The Lord sent me here to do this because He knew that I love taking care of people.”

Scotland Regional Hospice encourages the community to celebrate and appreciate nursing assistants this month.  The nationally recognized Nursing Assistant Day will take place on June 16, 2022.  For more information on hospice care or hospice CNAs, please call (910) 276-7176 or visit scotlandhospice.org.


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