I have found that most of the families that I have worked with didn’t have their Advance Directives in place and nine times out of ten they have not had the conversation with their families or representatives. Unfortunately, my family is part of this statistic.
As early as 5th grade, a passion began in me to help others. I assisted the school nurse and later worked as a candy striper. After high school, I decided to become a Registered Nurse. I starting by becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant. I learned so much and appreciated the wonderful stories that the patients shared with me. I remember the death of my first my patient, “Captain”, as we called him, was a WWII pilot. He was tough on the staff but he was my buddy. I cried so hard when he died and remembered the Director of Nursing telling me that “it’s ok to cry but not in front of the family”.
As my career advanced, I managed an admissions department. This is when I learned about advance directives. I would sit down with patients and families and discuss their end-of-life choices. Nine times out of ten they had not even talked about advance directives. I learned that you can’t teach compassion, dignity, respect or kindness but you can educate on the importance of planning.
Even though I didn’t end up in nursing school, I remained in the healthcare industry. I was not only busy helping patients but my own family, as well. First my grandmother, then my favorite uncle and the most difficult of all, my mom. This is when I learned that my family was part of the large percentage of people who had not had the conversation about what they desired for end of life. I had to quickly learn what my mom and dad’s wishes were. Thankfully, we were able to get everything completed before my dad died. It was then that I promised myself and my 2 daughters, that we would have the discussion….and we did. My advance directives are in place and my daughters know what my wishes are.
Sylvia has been in the healthcare industry for over 35 years. She has her Masters degree in Business and Healthcare Administration. She began her work in hospice in 2011. She is currently a Liaison for Hospice of the West. She ensures the intake and referral process effectively and timely to meet the needs of the patients, families, the referral sources and professionals in the community.