Hospice: Intruder or Emissary? One Family's Experience

At its best, according to Robin Romm, hospice care is comprised of emissaries who listen more than lecture, who accept the role of mystery and suffering even as they try to bring ease and peace to the dying and the family. In an ideal world, this would be delivered naturally, with both parties benefitting from the grace of the exchange, but in the real world, this mission to bring solace and kindness to a grieving family can get complicated. Perhaps the provider actually senses that the family is creating more tension and chaos for the dying. Perhaps he or she thinks the family is being selfish. That the dosing of the medication should be changed when the family disagrees. Maybe he/she feels that the family should embrace the role of God, or should “let go” to ease the psychic suffering. When the hospice worker begins to judge or dictate, real tension arises and damage can be done.

Robin will discuss her family’s experience with hospice and the ways that competing visions made for an experience that did not, as hospice likes to attest, “meet families where they are” and “meet needs identified by the patient and family.”

Robin will explore the difference between her understanding of her mother’s death and her hospice nurse’s; how this impacted her family’s experience at times of transition and throughout the care of her mother during the final weeks of her life. She will describe how alienating and unhelpful it is to push patients and families to embrace an unauthentic version of what a good death should be.

Unfortunately, Robin’s experience is not unique. She has much to teach us about being present, listening, questioning assumptions and suspending judgement.  She will help hospice and palliative care professionals learn how “good intentions” can be intrusive; suggestions mere platitudes.  She’ll passionately and eloquently describe what her family really needed; an emissary that took cues from her family and truly supported them during a critical time in their story.

No CE/CME Credit Available

1.00 hours