Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Conversation Project

Raise your hand if your days consist of ZERO planning! 


Seeing no hands in the air I’ll assume each of you – as do I,  plan for literally almost everything in life.  We plan for all of life’s significant happenings – weddings, births, careers, ……and, amazingly we also plan for life’s little necessities – grocery shopping, haircuts, RAZORBACK football season & tailgating, ... so WHY is it the majority of us DO NOT plan in advance for our wishes at the end of our life? 


What type of care you’d like or not like at the end of your life is not necessarily a discussion that will make you “the life of the party”.  However, it is a discussion that will allow your loved ones to honor your wishes and to lessen the decision making for them in a time that is painful enough.   Like it or not the day will come for all of us and those we love to part from this planet.   We know this as certain as we know we must pay taxes.  One difference in the two is that we know the day which are taxes are due and we know not the time we will be faced with acknowledging our days on earth are limited.


I challenge each of YOU to PLAN for what is one of the most important times of your life and in the life of your loved ones.   Circle of Life Hospice provides a very simple program, “Five Wishes,” that assists you with advanced directive planning. Or I also encourage you to access The Conversation Project, a website dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. Either program provides you “step by step” assistance in answering the questions necessary to ensure you’ve addressed everything to honor your end of life wishes.


Count on Circle of Life to support you however we may in this planning process as we believe YOUR wishes should be honored and clearly we believe in the value of planning for your future.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

No regrets!

I recently came across an article titled "Top Five Regrets of the Dying."  It sparked my interest and I think we can all relate to the following list.

1. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
2. I wish I'd stayed in touch with my friends.
3. I wish I had let myself be happier.
4. I wish I'd had the courage to express my true self.
5. I wish I'd lived a life true to my dreams instead of what others expected of me.

This article got me to thinking, what would be my biggest regret if this was my last day of life?  Working in the hospice world, I am probably more attuned to this train of thought than others might be, but it is such an important message and reminder. 

I want to remind each of you to live each day to the fullest.  Make sure your loved ones know how much they mean to you.  And most importantly, don't put off till tomorrow what can be done today.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Grateful for our CNA's

Honoring our Certified Nursing Assistants – Deanna, Michal, Gayla, Sharon, Vickey, Sharnan, Robiana, Deborah, Donna, Kay, Wanda, Jamie, Cindy, Thomas, Lois, Lillian, Yessenia, Jared, Teresa, Brandy, Mary, Corina, Nancy, Sara, Dana, Misty, Lori, Arlene, Catherine, Ellen, Shenia, Laura, Marichris, Rebecca, Naicy and Donna.

As we celebrate National Nursing Assistant week here at Circle of Life I want to sincerely thank our CNA team who provide excellent care to our patients and families.  Beyond the physical strength  they possess to lift and maneuver patients, their hearts are filled with compassion and their ears tuned to hear any concerns weighing on our patients.  Without a doubt our CNA’s truly care about those they serve and are always finding ways to go “above and beyond” with each patient and their family.  I am so proud  of Circle of Life's CNA team and grateful for the superior care they consistently provide.

Please join me in thanking our CNA’s and taking the opportunity to tell them how important their work is.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Certain Memories Stand Out More

The following article was written by one of Circle of Life's patient volunteers, Lisa Kelley. She has been a part of the COL team for over three years.  I thought this article gave great insight into the hospice world.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 
Certain Memories Stand Out More
-By Lisa Kelley
When you look back over your life thus far, what do you remember most?  Those moments where everything went according to plan, or where something happened that carried you away from your charted course?  For me, I tend to remember the Plan B’s of life far more often than the Plan A’s.
I remember the wretched aroma of our high school gymnasium after someone poured deer scent (eh, that’s a pungent blend of deer urine, for those unfamiliar with the term) all over the floor right before our commencement exercises, and I remember the ensuing laughter echoing from our class as parents held their noses in disgust.  I remember the times when my mother, newly divorced and on her own for the first time in her life, tried to build a fire in the wood stove.  We spent many a winter’s night with snow on the ground and us in our summer gowns with the windows thrown open because it was hotter than Hades in the house.  I remember the night my father left; the day my marriage ended; the curious combination of smells (artificial roses, Cotillion perfume and moth balls?) that defined my great-grandmother’s house; the sight of my kitten and puppy having toilet-papered my entire living room, twice; the amazing, free-spirited feeling of hopping in the car with my dog and driving 3,000 miles across the Old West without reservations or itinerary.  Those moments, when we are completely off-script and thrust square into the unexpected, those moments I remember.
As a volunteer at our local Circle of Life Hospice, I’ve had the privilege of being invited into the most private moments of those facing the final stages of life as we know it.  For many, this is a time of reflection over life’s events, and I’ve noticed a common thread woven throughout their stories.  Without exception, each person has shared with me stories containing two central themes:  faith and family, and their heartbreak or triumph with either.
The first patient I was ever paired with was a quiet lady with strained family relations.  She hadn’t opened up much with the doctors, nurses, social worker or clergy, but on the afternoon of our first meeting, she confessed her socks off to me.  Perhaps it was easier to talk with the person who wasn’t there to poke her with a needle or change her linens; I had no agenda other than to be there for her in any way that I could.  Of all the moments in all her years, the ones she focused on were the ones that tormented her, ones where both God and kin seemed far away.  She wanted to talk, so I listened, and then shared with her about my similar failings and of the grace I believe is afforded us all.  Her face softened as tears streamed down her face, and though she still talked about those troubling times, she began to share more and more about the other memories of her life as well. 
A woman of extremely limited means, she said she’d never given much thought about her final arrangements and that she’d likely have whatever was cheapest.  I asked if she could have anything at all and money was no object, what she would want.  She said she always hoped to be buried in a dress.  “You know, a pretty church dress,” she said.  I replied how that seemed fairly reasonable to me.  She smiled slightly, looked down and said, “I guess so, but I don’t own a dress.”
The plain white box was delivered anonymously.  Inside, beneath mounds of tissue paper, the pastel dress awaited its new owner.  I heard that she beamed with delight and couldn’t believe the dress was hers.  She immediately wanted to try it on.  It fit perfectly.  I thought it looked lovely on her at her service.
Perhaps the times remembered most are the simple, unexpected moments when we’re called to be something different than we planned.  When we’re available, laying aside expectations, clearing our calendars and putting down the iGadgets long enough to have real, face-to-face conversations with the world around us.  When we let something just happen.  Sometimes, being receptive to an altered course and making the most of Plan B is enough.  Sometimes, there’s no higher priority in life than a pretty dress.

-This copyrighted article published with permission from NWA Media and the Benton County Daily Record. (www.nwaonline.com)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Celebrating Volunteers

Circle of Life is celebrating our amazing volunteers this week during National Volunteer Week!  We are blessed with over 140 volunteers who give selflessly of their time to support the work we do.  Nationally, there are an estimated 458,000 hospice volunteers providing more than 21 million hours of service.  Wow!  
Did you know that it is federally mandated, under Medicare, that five percent of all patient care hours be provided by trained volunteers? This requirement underscores the important role that hospice volunteers play in caring for the dying and their family caregivers.  
At Circle of Life, we believe our volunteers are the heart of hospice.  After all, hospice began in this country just a little over 30 years ago as a largely, volunteer-driven community movement. 
I encourage you to take some time this week and join me in celebrating the work of volunteers.  They truly make a difference for all in Northwest Arkansas and for that I am very grateful.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

National Healthcare Decisions Day

Spring is definitely in the air and who doesn't love spring? (okay, I realize if you have trouble with allergies you may not) First the daffodils begin to bloom, followed closely by the red buds, forsythia and then YES the dogwoods!  A sequence that is as predictable as birth, life, and death.  The difference  being we don't always know the timing of the latter - death.

That's why I believe it is so important to live life with our heads "above the sand" -- recognizing each day and all the beauty that nature brings as a gift and that one day all of us will face our transition into afterlife.  Not necessarily a topic for the dinner table or is it?  I propose it is or should be anyway .  April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day. A day set aside to talk about this very subject with those close to you.  Join me in advocating for NATIONAL HEALTHCARE Decisions Day and plan for ALL of your days. 

Click on the link to learn more about this event and please share it with those you love.  I'm tempted to mention the classic seat belt commercial of the 70's -- oh, what the heck -- if you love them "buckle up" . . . if you love them, share this link as it's JUST THAT IMPORTANT!

As always, let me know how we at Circle of Life can help you with you and your loved ones planning -- we are a hospice but we are as much about living as we are dying!

I am Hospice, Mary

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hospice Myths

Hospice is one of the most misunderstood health care specialties around.  I want to address a few of the most common myths we here over and over.

Myth: Hospice is just for the final days.
Reality:Patients can be on hospice for a few days, a few weeks, a few months and for some even years.  The sooner a patient is referred to hospice and can begin to receive the compassionate care focused around improving their quality of life, the better.  Too often, we hear, “I wish we would have called sooner.”  This is a heartbreaking statement to hear.  It is never too early to begin the conversation and know what your options and loved ones wishes are so there aren’t delays when the time comes for hospice services.

Myth: Hospice is only for the elderly.
Reality:There are no age requirements to receive hospice care.  We have had patients as young as 2 months all the way up to 110. 

Myth:  Hospice is only for cancer patients.
Reality:  In 2011, over 60% of our patients were on hospice because of diseases not associated with cancer.  Hospice is for any diagnosis that meets the criteria of being a life-limiting terminal illness.  This myth dates back to when hospice began in America and at that time, was primarily a service for cancer patients.  This just simply is not true today. 

Myth: Hospice is giving up.
Reality:  This just might be one of the hardest myths to address because this involves a person’s mindset.  Hospice is the farthest thing from giving up.  While yes, it is true that you are choosing to no longer seek curative treatment, it is not true that you, your family or your doctor are giving up on you.  Hospice is about giving the gift of life until the last second.  It is about providing comfort and quality time to be with your loved ones.

For more information, visit Circle of Life Hospice online at www.nwacircleoflife.org or call me at 479-750-6632.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In Celebration of Valentine's Day

Why shouldn’t everyday be Valentine’s Day?   In my book – it is!  Love well everyday of your life – love the ones you’re with as the song goes…..every second, minute, hour, day is a gift you share with strangers, friends and family! Live it to the fullest.

Our Circle of Life TEAM “shares the love”  24/7 --- by providing compassionate care and support for our patients and their families. 

Happy Valentine's Day friends.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My First Hospice Experience

"Mary, it's a choice of prolonging your mother's life or prolonging her death." Words that will always ring in my ears.  With encouragement from my Mom's physician -- as a family - two brothers, a sister and my Mom our family chose Circle of Life Hospice care.    A choice that allowed my family to "walk alongside Mom" all the way to heaven. Circle of Life Hospice allowed her to die at home, without suffering, in peace and surrounded by her family.  

It was February, 2004 at the age of 45 that I had my first experience with hospice care and at that time I knew it wouldn't be my last.  Though I never imagined that I  would be given the privilege to provide the leadership to Circle of Life Hospice and be apart of that very team that helped "walk my Mom to heaven". 

I remember the  day, March 13, 2004, that my Mom died so very clearly and for me it will always be one of my greatest reminders as to why I chose this calling as my "life's work" and dedicate myself each day to helping people of NWA get the care and support that is the best that humankind can offer! 

I am blessed and I AM HOSPICE.