I read Joan Wickersham’s “The night we hung up on hospice” with great sadness. The scenario she described is like what I have experienced, as both a caregiver and a patient with a long-term chronic illness. The problem is not with hospice — the problem is in lack of training around how to cut through the fog of confusion in difficult moments.
If anything, hospice workers know and acknowledge the challenge of moments like this. Accordingly, there has been a rise in the development of protocols and trainings that focus on how to help individuals and their families through these scenarios. It is in these trainings where I have learned how to meet each moment in the dying process with the clarity, compassion, groundedness, and imagination that Wickersham feels was lacking.
At the National Partnership for Hospice Innovation, our members know that we get only one chance at helping someone. This is precisely why our members invest in opportunities for continuing education — we know that we must always strive to do better.
It is my sincere hope that the on-call clinician in the case of Wickersham’s family will be able to learn from that encounter and to take advantage of trainings similar to those I have attended. As hospice workers, we owe it to the families we serve to better help in moments of fear and confusion.
National Partnership for Hospice Innovation