Thursday November 21, 2013
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. All year long, the Visiting Nurse Association’s (VNA’s) Hospice program promotes dignity and quality of life during a person’s last months.
South Burlington resident Dr. Paula Fives-Taylor knows a great deal about the rewards of providing compassionate end-of-life care to her neighbors in need. Fives-Taylor dedicated herself to hospice volunteering after her husband died. November 13, Fives-Taylor celebrated her five-year anniversary as a hospice volunteer at the VNA’s Annual Staff and Volunteer Recognition Dinner.
Considered the model for quality compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness, hospice caregivers provide expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. Hospice volunteers are an integral part of the team that helps families navigate a very sensitive and difficult time.
Fives-Taylor said, “I strongly feel it’s a privilege to be with someone at the end of their lives. We celebrate birth, weddings and birthdays but death is also part of that continuum.”
In 2012, Cabot Creamery Cooperative named Fives-Taylor a “Community Celebrity” as part of a national recognition program that celebrates the selfless and heroic work of volunteers. After receiving the honor, Fives-Taylor reflected on what led her to become a hospice volunteer in a blog entry.
“When my husband had a stroke, it affected his brain significantly and he was unable to be left alone. I became his primary caregiver,” Fives-Taylor recalled. “This experience taught me how much we need the help of others. Far too many people fear and experience dying as a time of pain, anxiety and loneliness.”
Over the past five years, Fives-Taylor has used her compassion and experience to help others in many ways from visiting hospice clients in their homes to facilitating volunteer training classes to recording data at the VNA.
“I love being in the home with family members and helping to relieve their feelings of isolation that I also experienced when my husband was dying,” Fives-Taylor said.
In just this past year, the VNA provided 765 individuals in our community with end-of-life care; equating to 17,749 days of hospice care (in homes and other community settings) and 3,736 days of care at Vermont Respite House, VNA’s home away from home for people with terminal illness. These services are provided regardless of an individual’s ability to pay.
Sunday, January 12, 2014, the public is invited to attend the annual Vermont Respite House Memorial Tree Lighting and Remembrance Ceremony from 2-4 p.m. at Williston Federated Church. The event offers a chance to gather to honor and remember loved ones; names of all the Vermont Respite House residents in 2013 will be read during the ceremony. Everyone is invited back to Respite House after the service for refreshments and to see the Memorial Tree.
If you’re interested in learning more or becoming a hospice volunteer, visit http://www.vnacares.org/volunteer/programs.