While providing hospice care is a privilege for our staff, it is often heart-wrenching work which can lead to burn-out if we don’t take steps to replenish ourselves while honoring our patients. At the start of weekly team meetings, chaplains lead staff in a centering activity: remembering patients who died and then listening to a song, reading a poem, or taking turns reading a stanza aloud. The teams hold quarterly memorial services. Periodically we bring in meditation or massage therapists.
Starting this year, after each quarterly Hospice Austin all-staff meeting, employees are given the opportunity to remember and honor our patients by selecting one or more blue ribbons and taking a contemplative “Walk to Remember.” Each ribbon is then affixed to an explanatory note and sent to a patient’s primary caregiver about four months after the patient has died. Nurse Mary Gilmore received a call recently from a patient’s spouse who said she would keep the ribbon forever.
We can never really do enough to support our staff who do this difficult work. I am so grateful for all our outstanding employees and the incredible difference they make, every day, in the lives of our patients and families.