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Care for the End-of-Life Caregiver: Renewing the Spirit, Embracing the Work

Presented by Susan Hedlund.

On May 2, 2013, 83 people attended MOVE’s second quarterly training of 2013, Caring for the End-of-Life Caregiver: Renewing the Spirit, Embracing the Work. The program provided attendees with the opportunity to explore strategies for enhancing self-care, discuss their professional knowledge about providing excellent end-of-life care, learn about practices available to respect each individual’s end-of-life care preferences, and share their personal experiences.

The program started off with an interactive presentation by Susan Hedlund (MSW and LCSW), a social worker with extensive experience working with individuals and families facing lifethreatening illness and loss. Ms. Hedlund presented on how individuals involved in end-of-life caregiving can balance taking care of themselves while embracing their role of taking care of others and gave opportunities for the attendees to share their struggles in end-of-life caregiving and their mechanisms for handling the stress related thereto. After the presentation, Ms. Hedlund led a panel discussion, which included presentations by Amy Vandenbrouke, (J.D. and executive director of OHSU’s POLST Program), Mary George-Whittle (Director of Pastoral Services at Mary’s Woods), Kimberly Fuson (Chief Program Officer at Cedar Sinai Park), and Sandra Clark (CCRN and creator of the “No One Dies Alone” program).

Key Points

The panelists discussed the following topics:

  • The availability, usefulness and benefits of having individuals fill out POLST forms and Advanced Healthcare Directives, as well as the differences between the documents;
  • Rituals and supportive environments for those involved in the transition process;
  • The “No One Dies Alone” program and ways to support individuals at the end-of-life; and
  • Resources for individuals involved with end-of-life caregiving.

After answering audience questions and listening to audience members’ experience with end-of-life caregiving challenges and triumphs, the panel convened and the audience members regrouped for a learning circle activity to discuss rituals practiced to commemorate residents and help other residents, family members and staff members grieve their loss. While one attendee hoped for longer learning circles, the learning circles provided the opportunity for end-of-life caregivers at different places and with different backgrounds to share new ideas with colleagues. Attendees remarked that they gained a lot of ideas to add to their own memorial services, rituals and bereavement ideas for their caregivers.

Outcomes & Lessons

Overall, the program was a great success. Among other topics, attendees stated that the program provided information on the following:

  • How to help their facilities grieve and honor residents;
  • How to effectively tackle challenges and provide leadership to do so;
  • Honoring and remembering each resident, living or in death;
  • Ways to better “self-care” while caring for others at end-of-life, including taking needed breaks, recognizing fatigue and recognizing caregivers’ hard work;
  • Getting POLST and Advanced Healthcare Directives completed; and
  • Enlarging communications within an organization.

Before leaving, attendees were asked to write out an action plan titled What Will YOU Do By Next Thursday, to make a commitment regarding how the individual will use the information and resources provided at the quarterly training to improve end-of-life caregiving, as well as improve their own “self-care.”

Event Photos

Care for the End-of-Life Caregiver
Care for the End-of-Life Caregiver
Care for the End-of-Life Caregiver
Care for the End-of-Life Caregiver
Care for the End-of-Life Caregiver
Care for the End-of-Life Caregiver
Care for the End-of-Life Caregiver
Care for the End-of-Life Caregiver
Care for the End-of-Life Caregiver

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PLANTING THE SEEDS OF CULTURE CHANGE IN ELDER CARE

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