Blog Post: My Experience With Archway Hospice by Donna French

Blog Post: My Experience With Archway Hospice by Donna French

Hello!  I am Donna French, the Community Liaison for Archway Hospice.  My goal in writing is to share with you the journey I took a couple of years ago when I decided to gain experience in the hospice industry and join the Archway Hospice team.  The sad and gloomy vision I had of hospice is far from the true meaning of the hospice experience.

Let me explain:

During my career, I had the privilege of working in the senior living industry. Throughout my time in the senior living industry I was exposed to a variety of options such as: home health, independent living, assisted living memory care, and skilled nursing.  I have always been passionate about my work, and was proud to be able to help seniors find their best-fit living options to enhance their lives and wellbeing.  I offered various features and benefits of these different living spaces, in communities that gave multiple choices for a safer and better quality of life. I was also able to offer peace of mind for families, ensuring their loved ones would be taken care of. I remember questioning how I would transition into the hospice industry and work with those that had terminal illnesses. It is difficult knowing that families and friends were going to lose their loved ones and I would be responsible to educate them during these difficult times. I was nervous because no one wants to talk about or deal with the stigma that comes with hospice. I did not know what to expect and was not sure if I would be able to deal with sadness on a daily basis, but I know I was ready to learn and gain new experience.

On my first day, I was welcomed by a wonderful team of professionals at Archway Hospice, who took me under their wing, educated me, and made sure I experienced “a day in the life” of each hospice employee and their role in the company. I spent time with nurses, hospice aides, the chaplain, the social worker, and even met with volunteers. I even met with the medical directors and shadowed the care team when they visited their patients to get more of an inside look on how patients are treated.  I listened and learned a plethora of information while observing how the team treated and counseled patients and their loved ones.  First hand, I saw that the entire transition into hospice is a gift. For the patient and their loved ones, the education/explanation of benefits and the knowledge of knowing they are not alone, is a gift. For the team, the ability to give a better quality of life and giving hope and a sense of security of patients and their families is also a gift. I personally experienced the gift of learning from the entire team what hospice truly is. I realized very quickly that I had misunderstood the true meaning of hospice. This was a huge opportunity for me to continue my passion of educating and serving others, just under a new set of circumstances.

My career in hospice turned into something more meaningful than ever expected.  The experiences I share with our patients and their loved ones, as well as my team, turned my initial fear and intimidation to a true love and respect for the word “hospice”.   

It is an honor and privilege to serve our patients and their loved ones during this very special time in their lives. My personal goal is to share my knowledge and experience to everyone I meet.  Eventually the fear of the “H” word will disappear and be viewed in a positive light. I have always heard that hospice is for the dying, but now I know that hospice is here for the living and it paves the way for a better quality of life.    

Next week:   The Most Misunderstood Myths of Hospice.   

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