Meet Angela Suratt, a VITAS Hospice Aide
Hospice Aide Profile
Little did Angela Surratt know when she was in school to become a certified nursing assistant that she would follow her teacher into the field of hospice with VITAS® Healthcare. Nearly 28 years after gaining her certification and Florida license, Angela is still helping VITAS hospice patients.
“To be a good hospice aide, you have to really like working with hospice patients. This is a difficult time for families and patients, and we are going into their homes,” says Angela. “You have to be a really good listener, be caring and very dedicated.”
Being the “Eyes and Ears” of the Team
Angela generally visits six patients each day. Depending on their needs, she will see patients once or twice a week. Her day begins around eight a.m., when she calls each family she plans to visit. “It’s so important to call these families. I never forget that I am going into their environment and their schedule,” she explains.
As a hospice aide, Angela’s duties vary. She is responsible for the personal care of her patients, which includes shampooing their hair, giving baths or showers, changing their clothes and bed linens and tidying up their room or area.
Angela is the “eyes and ears” of the patient’s care team, reporting to the patient’s nurse any changes in the patient’s condition: edema, agitation, lethargy, eating or bowel habits or if there are pressure ulcers the nurse needs to treat. “I have to notice everything,” Angela says. “Good care is so important, and I see the patient more than anyone on the team.”
Being There for Families
Hospice aides are also there for the patient’s family and/or caregiver. “Sometimes when I call to say I’m coming, they’ll ask me to pick up some milk or do some shopping. I also help with laundry,” says Angela.
“I’m there for the family even after the patient has passed,” Angela says. One of the ways she copes with the death of a patient is to make a bereavement phone call to the family. “A call is so important,” she explains. Sometimes she’ll stop by to visit a grieving family in between her patient visits.
Helping Others, Making a Difference
Angela has been happy working for VITAS for 28 years. “My job with VITAS is so flexible. I have met wonderful people and worked with wonderful managers and coworkers,” she says. “I give my patients everything I have. I feel I’m doing something to help people and to make them more comfortable at the end of their life.