Use Your Compassion To Make a Difference for Hospice Patients
At VITAS Healthcare, we do the essential work of providing compassionate care to people approaching the end of life. The responsibility of ensuring we fulfill a hospice patient’s wishes and maximize their comfort is one we take seriously.
VITAS care team members support patients and their loved ones during one of the most challenging times of their lives. Like so many of our colleagues, Alicia Hunt, RN, an admissions nurse in Atlanta, is committed and compassionate in her interactions with patients and colleagues.
“Compassion is one of those things you have to have in your heart as a hospice nurse,” says Alicia. “These patients and families are going through such a difficult time. They are realizing their mortality, and it can't be rushed. It has to be understood.”
An Innate Sense of Empathy
Compassion comes naturally to Alicia, who has loved caring for people all her life.
“I like helping people. I love hospice,” she says. “I love the people that I work with, I love the patients that I work with. I love being that source of comfort, and I love making a difference in their lives.”
Alicia came to VITAS three years ago after spending time as a charge nurse in a hospital cardiac care unit where she was exposed to end-of-life care and realized that’s where she belonged.
Now, as a hospice nurse in the hospital setting, Alicia goes above and beyond to ensure patients are not alone.
“I've held the phone through the door as they're saying goodbye to their loved ones,” Alicia says. “We do everything we can to make sure that the patients have somebody there with them so that they're not alone at the end.”
Finding Purpose in Compassionate Care
Showing compassion can be as simple as practicing active listening with patients and their loved ones.
When you are surrounded by a team that cares about you, supports you, and listens to you, you can't beat that.
“In my experience, the best way for me to show compassion is by listening,” Alicia says. “They have stories to tell. They lived a whole entire life, and at the end, they just want to have somebody listen. I can provide that.”
The work can truly be difficult at times—but knowing that the compassion you show brings peace to hospice patients makes it all worth it, explains Alicia.
“What we do is a big deal. We are there for the hardest time in somebody's life, and somebody who wants to be involved in that has to have a big caring heart. They have to want to support the families. They have to want to be part of a team because we couldn't do this all on our own.”
Practicing Compassion with Colleagues
Indeed, working at VITAS means joining an interdisciplinary team of colleagues who share your passion. Demonstrating spirit and compassion toward colleagues is key to ensuring teams run smoothly.
It’s also something Alicia has been recognized for: She was the first VITAS admissions nurse to receive a bronze VITAS Difference pin, meaning she has been recognized by her teammates 10 or more times for her commitment, compassion, and can-do attitude.
“I'm very excited, but I couldn't have done it without the team that I work with. They are absolutely amazing,” Alicia says. “We have a very close connection. They're another source of release as far as coping with what we do.
“I have an awesome job. I absolutely believe in what I do, and I thrive giving people the comfort that they need. I have a great team that I work [with]. The hospital bedside is difficult, but when you are surrounded by a team that cares about you, supports you, and listens to you, you can't beat that.”