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Finding the spark: The special calling of a hospice aide

When Darlene Morse stops by the grocery store on her way home from work, she’s often asked about the title on her name badge: hospice aide.

“It’s usually when I’m checking out. Somebody in line will stop me and say, ‘My loved one was on hospice, and all of you are angels,’” Darlene says. “They always thank me for the care we provide.”

Here, she shares how HopeHealth’s hospice aides make a difference for patients and families, and what this work means to her personally.

> Find a career you’ll love! Apply today for one of our hospice aide positions.

Hospice aides do some of the most important work in end-of-life care. Can you share some examples?

Darlene: One big way we help patients is with their activities of daily living — things like bathing, brushing teeth, doing their nails, making their bed, changing their sheets.

Something that seems so little means the world. It makes patients feel so much better to get washed up and feel clean. At one point, they could do these things for themselves. Now, we provide that extra help. It’s about their dignity and pride at the end of life.

As I was leaving one patient recently, the wife gave me a huge hug and said, “I would be lost without you.”

> Related: In the halls of Hulitar: An inpatient hospice nurse opens up

Your work requires a lot of trust from patients and families. How do you help everyone feel comfortable?

I try to put myself in my patients’ shoes. I treat them how I would want to be treated, and how I want my own loved ones treated.

I say to families sometimes, “I’m probably going to need this help at some point in my life too. It could be in a month. It could be in a few years. It could be awhile. But eventually, I would want somebody to come in and help me like I’m helping your loved one.”

At home, I take care of my grandmother, who has dementia. My 6-year-old daughter helps me. She’ll say, “Mom, is this what you do for work?” I’ll say, “This is exactly what I do.”

How long have you been a hospice aide?

Eight years. Before this, I worked in assisted living and nursing homes. Then I decided to try something new, and came across the hospice aide opening at HopeHealth.

My first day in the field, I was shadowing another hospice aide. When I saw the work she was doing, and the time she took with each patient, I fell in love immediately.

Hospice is a completely different environment than other settings I’d worked in. You don’t have to worry about answering call lights and doing a million different jobs. You can focus on one patient and their family. At the end of each day, you know you provided the care and support they need.

To do that, especially at the end of someone’s life — it’s really rewarding.

> Related: Knocking on doors: How a silent monk became a hospice chaplain

You’ve been with HopeHealth ever since. Why?

HopeHealth is a great organization to work for. We’re compassionate. We take pride in our work. We all have the same spark that you need if you want to be in a hospice setting.

Plus, my team is wonderful. We keep each other in the loop about patients and families. We all understand each other, and are really supportive of each other. Some days are harder, emotionally, than others. If one of us needs a break, we all work together to support that. It feels like: We’re all in this together.

From my first day as a HopeHealth hospice aide, I have felt so honored and grateful to do this work. We are there for patients and families when they need us most. I don’t see myself doing anything else.

HopeHealth is now hiring hospice aides! Fill out our quick apply form today.

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