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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.