Posts Tagged ‘Nursing home’

“You cannot go into the room where someone is dying

and not pay attention.  Everything is

pulling you into the moment.”  ~~ Frank Ostaseki

In 1987, Frank Ostaseski helped form the Zen Hospice Project, the first Buddhist hospice in America. In 2004, he created Metta Institute to broaden this work and seed the culture with innovative approaches to end-of-life care that reaffirm the spiritual dimensions of dying.

I love listening to his 3 tape series entitled, Being a Compassionate Companion.  It has so much heart and he conveys the teachings of the Buddhist Path and the hospice experience in such a natural, gentle way.

In these three tapes, Frank gives guidance and explains these important teachings for cultivating a compassionate presence at the bedside:

Over the next few days, I will be sharing more about each of these precepts (teachings).

I hope that I can share what I learned from Frank and from working at hospice.  Most importantly, I hope that when you encounter another person, you learn to take a deep breath and settle in and truly open yourself to the experience.

More to come.

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An almost burnt-down lit candle on a candle ho...

Image via Wikipedia

Great Op-Ed in the NY Times on problems that the dying face. . .

The first hospice in the United States was founded in 1974 in Connecticut.  And for the most part, we have stayed with the model of care that was started at The Connecticut Hospice. 

And 40 years ago, it was a brilliant and necessary movement that needed to come to us.  And 40 years later, some people are terrified of the word hospice.  We’ve had four decades to teach the general public about hospice, break through barriers, and hold the space for people in every state to have the option of compassionate care at the end of life.

But there are certainly gaps in the system.  We need more respite care, more caregiver education, more education to other medical professionals on the uses of palliative medicine and referring to hospice earlier.  And of course, we need to continue getting the message out about having those difficult discussions at home and at the doctor’s office before we absolutely have to make decisions.

In the 7 years I worked for hospice, there were only a handful of families that were unhappy with our services.  Those families often had other problems going on as well such as family disagreements, “unfinished business”, family secrets, or mental health issues and let’s face it most families have at least one of those things happening.

Those families that did love the hospice that I worked for used hospice intergenerationally and referred friends and family for our services.  And yet, people still get referred into hospice in the very last days and hours before their death.  So how do we change this?

How do we stretch a philosophy of care beyond its borders when there are people who still cringe at the site or sound of the word?  We really need to start looking at these issues as our overall population gets older, as more families no longer live near extended families, and as more and more of us don’t get married.

We need to be having the conversation now.  Was a nursing home the right place for this patient in the article?  What about a palliative care center?  What kind of hospice was this family working with and could they not have had traditional in home hospice with a network of friends, family, volunteers, and paid professionals like CNAs?  Or is this issue much bigger than bandages?

Would love to hear what you think!


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