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What Is It Like to Work in a Hospice?

 June 1, 2021


What Connecticut Hospice Workers Say about Working at Hospice

One of the comments we often get from people we meet in the community is that it must be “so depressing” to work in a hospice.  They are always surprised that those of us who do work in one don’t find it to be that way.  In taking an informal sample of employees at The Connecticut Hospice recently, there is quite a bit of uniformity on this topic.

Symbol of Hope sculpture at Connecticut Hospice with rainbow over Long Island Sound in background
Symbol of Hope sculpture at Connecticut Hospice with rainbow over Long Island Sound in background.

Hospice Care is a Meaningful Calling

It matters to all workers everywhere to find meaning in their work.  Hospice work intrinsically falls into the category of meaningful employment.  It isn’t just a job.  It’s a calling, even for those who have non-clinical positions. They feel that what they do matters, and that they would find a for-profit, non-healthcare situation inherently different. A sense of mission is palpable in the air.

Connecticut Hospice Home Care staff hold outdoor meeting by coffee truck
Entire Home Care staff (Nursing, C.N.A.s, Social Work and Clinical Support) recently held a morning meeting.
Connecticut Hospice Workers During COVID 19
When the pandemic first hit all ConnecticutHospice staff, regardless of job title, wore scrubs to demonstrate it was a team effort fighting the war on COVID.
Connecticut Hospice in-patient nurses celebrate the successful admission of the first COVID-positive patient.
Connecticut Hospice in-patient nurses celebrate the successful admission of the first COVID-positive patient.

Proximity Drives Connection with Hospice Patients and Families

The work is all around us.  Most employees who aren’t clinical work within one floor of the inpatient unit.  They share elevators and stairs with visitors and families.  They handle paperwork for patients currently housed in our facility. That proximity works in precisely the opposite way that the average bystander might expect.

Connecticut Hospice staff celebrate the release of the facilitys first COVID positive patient
Connecticut Hospice staff celebrate the release of the facility's first COVID positive patient.
Connecticut Hospice staff members orchestra and attend an impromptu wedding, outside.
Connecticut Hospice staff members orchestra and attend an impromptu wedding, outside.

Hospice Work Offers Perspective and Gratitude in Daily Life

Hospice employees leave every day with gratitude for interaction with loved ones, exposure to nature and the outside world, and the gift of time.  They realize that our days are short, and health is uncertain.  That makes them desire to live life to the fullest, and to savor small pleasures. 

It also puts troubles and negativity into perspective.  When having a tough day, a visit to the inpatient floor is a reminder of our good fortune, and brings feelings of gratitude.  Especially during the pandemic, we can take solace, no matter what our problems, in being able to make someone else’s final days better and more rewarding. That also serves as a reality check on everything else in our lives.

A Connecticut Hospice family says good-bye to their dad:grandfather singing “Country Roads,” through the glass
A Connecticut Hospice family says good-bye to their dad:grandfather singing “Country Roads,” through the glass.
A home care patient celebrates her birthday with the help of her Connecticut Hospice team.
A home care patient celebrates her birthday with the help of her Connecticut Hospice team.

Many Hospice Staff experience Hospice Care as Family Members

Many of our employees have had relatives pass away in our hospice care.  Seeing what we do first hand is a formative experience for them.  It also enhances the sense of family that exists among the staff. We are there for the patients and families, and we are there for each other.  We pull together in times of need, and work as a team, to help everyone we touch to experience this level of care.

Employees can better support their friends and relatives through loss, as they’ve learned to accept the pain, listen, and just be present for others. As one said, “End of life care shouldn’t be taken for granted”.  They feel strongly about closure, and find the moments precious, even when the days are short.  

Connecticut Hospice nurse with her mom as a hospice patient
Connecticut Hospice nurse visits with her mom who is a hospice patient.
Connecticut Hospice Volunteer Taking a patient on a stroll Outside
Connecticut Hospice Volunteer takes a patient on an outdoor stroll to enjoy the water views of Long Island Sound.

There can be Joy and Celebration Even in the Final Days

Maybe surprisingly, we find a lot of joy in celebrating those moments, whether by pulling together a surprise party (or even a wedding!), bringing in a cherished pet, or wheeling a patient’s bed outdoors for some spring sunshine.  The building is filled with music and art, as well as more laughter than one might think.  Memories are made, or relived.  Holidays are special, as they are often the last ones a patient might enjoy.  Every day matters.

Connecticut Hospice Patient has a surprise princess birthday party
Connecticut Hospice Patient has a surprise princess birthday party!
Bea the Border Collie Therapy dog sharing some love with Hospice Family Member
Bea, the Border Collie therapy dog sharing some love with Hospice Family Member.

Hospice Care is Gratifying Work

The saying that we get more out of hospice than we put in may be trite, but, for so many of us, that rings so true. Whether we spend our working hours billing, cooking, filing, or fundraising, we take meaning from our surroundings, and pride in what we do.  What more could you ask from your work?

Interested in Becoming a Hospice Volunteer?

As a volunteer for Connecticut Hospice, you can choose the best role and time that works for you, from weekdays or weekends, to mornings or evenings. 

Opportunities to make a difference as a volunteer continually arise.

Interested in Hospice Career Opportunities?

Those who come to Connecticut Hospice join a community and have the opportunity to pursue a challenging and rewarding career in the healthcare field.

We offer opportunities for growth that include a range of clinical and administrative positions.

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