Learn how death doulas can benefit both patients and staff when they are added to the hospice interdisciplinary team.
Today I’m sharing an interview with Sherry Majewski who is a hospice-certified LPN who went to become a Certified Death Doula and is now helping her employer create a doula program within the hospice. We talk about the benefits and challenges of adding doulas to the hospice team and why this is an important step forward as we work to improve care for the dying. Learn more about Sherry’s doula services at her website:
If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on Patreon.com/eolu, especially my new patrons Joanna Lillian Brown, Karin Lindfors, Carol Marangoni, Cathy Clemens, Myra Bennett, and to Mandy Pierpont thank you for increasing your pledge!
This episode is the first of a 4-part series that introduces you to the members of a palliative care team. Today Dr. Colin Scibetta discusses his role as the physician on the team and how palliative care differs from hospice care. In future episodes you’ll hear from the team nurse, social worker and chaplain.
As this episode airs I am enjoying a trip through Spain, including cycling in the Andalucia region! I’ll be back home in a few weeks to report on the trip. Follow me on Instagram to see my photos at kwyattmd or this link: https://www.instagram.com/kwyattmd/
This interview will cover:
What palliative care consists of
The difference between palliative care and hospice
The benefits of palliative care for patients
How the whole-person approach of palliative medicine also benefits care providers
Why Providence Institute for Human Caring (et al) was awarded the Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association
Colin Scibetta MD is a fellowship-trained palliative medicine physician who complete his undergrad in neuroscience and biology at Wesleyan University. He then moved to Ecuador where he worked on a health initiative for indigenous communities impacted by oil development. Dr. Scibetta did his undergraduate medical training at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, where he also completed an internal medicine residency and a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine.
Remember to tune in next week for Part 2 of this palliative care series! If you enjoy this content be sure to share it with others who might find it helpful and consider leaving a review on iTunes.
Learn about the life of Cicely Saunders and what we can discover from her quest to change the way that people died.
In this episode, recorded just after the celebration of what would have been Cicely Saunder’s 100th birthday, I talk about how she became interested in caring for the dying, what inspired her to create St. Christopher’s Hospice, and what we can learn from her determination to improve care at the end of life.
Read more about the life and work of Dame Cicely Saunders at:
If you’d like to join A Year of Reading Dangerously, our online reading group for 2018, there’s still time! Check out the reading list here and start reading along with 1,000 other people around the globe!
Cicely Saunders first began working with dying patients when she was training to be a nurse in the early 1940’s in London. She went on to become an Almoner (medical social worker) and a volunteer nurse at a hospice for the dying poor where she recognized the great need for better pain management and comfort care at the end of life.
When she was told that the medical system would not be interested in her ideas because she wasn’t a physician she accepted the challenge and went to medical school. One revolutionary contribution to end-of-life care was her concept of “Total Pain,” which included emotional and spiritual pain as well as physical.
As a doctor Cicely received a research grant where she studied pain management and wrote many articles. She took “before and after” photos of each patient so that she could show the transformation that occurred when pain was alleviated. Eventually her dream of creating a hospital dedicated to care of the dying was fulfilled when St. Christopher’s Hospice opened 10 years later.
From her story we can take much inspiration for today’s ongoing struggle to improve care at the end of life:
Follow your heart – Cicely stayed true to her heart and passion throughout her career as she dedicated herself to care of the dying, even when others discouraged her.
Be willing to change course to achieve your dream – Cicely was unable to pursue her original dream of being a nurse after a back injury and shifted to medical social work as a way of continuing her work with dying patients.
Be persistent – Cicely’s determination to do whatever it took to bring her dream to fruition led her to become a doctor.
Patience is essential – Cicely had to wait for many years to see her dream of a hospice become a reality: first while she studied to be a doctor, then did several years of research, and finally raised the funds to build St. Christopher’s. Change rarely happens overnight so stay the course!
Be credible before you can be incredible – Cicely demonstrated this throughout her career as she diligently worked through her own education and her research to gain credibility in the eyes of the medical system she was trying to change
The importance of teamwork – Cicely found likeminded individuals in her community and in the U.S. to sustain her inspiration and her enthusiasm for her goal. We can accomplish more as a team than as individuals.
Flexible models are necessary for optimum care – Cicely resisted standardizing her model of hospice care and instead chose to help others create their own unique solutions for the needs of their communities.
Have a big vision but humble expectations – Cicely sought to change care of the dying across the world with her vision of hospice but was content to make a difference to just one patient at at time.
“If one man from a poor village in India dies without pain because of what I have done, it will all have been worthwhile.” – Dame Cicely Saunders
Today we would be advised to remember her Total Pain concept as we struggle to deal with an opioid crisis in the U.S. Neglecting the contribution of emotional and spiritual pain to physical pain has led to over-reliance on drugs as the answer to suffering.
Happy Birthday Dame Cicely Saunders!
Thank you for inspiring us to carry on your big vision of helping every person find comfort, peace and love at the end of life.
Tune in every Monday for a new episode! If you enjoy this content please share with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Until next week:
Learn how pet therapy with a trained animal companion can benefit hospice patients physically and emotionally.
In this episode I share a “legacy interview” from the archives with Magnum – a trained facility dog – and his handler Carol Mestemacher about the benefits of pet therapy for hospice patients. Magnum recently “retired” from his volunteer position so I decided to honor his work by featuring this interview today. Thank you for your service Magnum and Carol!
A huge thank you to my new supporters on Patreon.com/eolu: Susan Clark and Howard Bryant! Your contributions help me keep this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on the air. If you’d like to join us for as little as $1 a month and receive special bonuses go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more!
Hear my far-reaching dreams and ideas for changing the way people die in the U.S. in 2018.
In this episode I talk about some of my own personal goals for the New Year and then discuss a list of ideas for ways in which we need to improve all aspects of the end of life. Get some inspiration for steps you can take within your own community and in your own personal life to “Be Good at Death.”
I’ve started a new year-long reading group called A Year of Reading Dangerously for 2018! We’ll be exploring death and the afterlife through books that hopefully will inspire us and stretch our boundaries. Sign up to receive a monthly email with the book selection for the month and a downloadable reader’s discussion guide. Join the fun!
A HUGE thank-you to my latest supporters: Claire Turner and Dr. Leslie Robinson. Your contribution is greatly appreciated as it helps defray the costs of producing and broadcasting this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series, but it also provides me with much-needed emotional and spiritual support! To donate as little as $1 per month go to Patreon.com/eolu.
There is a new pledge level on Patreon-the Platinum level-where for a donation of $5 per month you’ll receive replays of ALL of the End-of-Life University Interviews for 2018. So check it out now!
What we need to do to “Be Good at Death” in 2018″:
Policy Level changes needed:
Improve reimbursement for Palliative Care
Stabilize and improve reimbursement for Hospice Care
Establish a system for paying family caregivers
Medical System changes needed
Integrate Palliative Care into Primary Care and therefore …
Increase home-based palliative services
Rank hospitals according to the quality of end-of-life care provided (based on an article by Dr. Haider Warraich from Duke University). Dr. Warraich’s criteria for this ranking include:
“percentage of patients with a documented health care proxy
percentage of patients who receive heroic measures like cardiopulmonary resuscitation or cardiac defibrillation
appropriate use of hospice and palliative care
the likelihood of a family recommending the hospital for end-of-life care
whether patients’ location of death was concordant with the place in which they had wanted to die
availability of around-the-clock spiritual resources
the training the medical team receives for dealing with the medical and psychosocial issues that arise when death is imminent” ((Thank you Dr. Warraich for this fabulous idea!))
Medical Education changes needed
Train all medical providers in palliative care (at least a one-month rotation) regardless of specialty
All medical students work with dying patients in at least one rotation
Teach better conversational and listening skills to medical providers
Help medical providers process their own fears and biases toward death and their repressed grief