Commemorating the Power of Caring
By Christine Eggers, Appeal to Heaven
I didn’t set out to become a nurse. But here I am, 30 years in, with no intention of stopping. I’ve worked in other settings and as an instructor, but home health and hospice are where I find my heart. When I was teaching, I went back to work as a nurse on weekends because I missed it.
Every day in my line of work looks different. Today I am providing respite to a farmer whose wife has dementia because he needs to harvest his crops. Tomorrow I will set up medications for one client, perform wound care on another, and chaperone a clinic appointment for a third. For some, I coordinate and supervise a team of care providers. For others, I complete weekly health assessments to keep them out of the hospital. My clients wish to remain at home, and I solve the problems that might prevent them from doing so. My best day is when I solve a problem before it has even begun.
Home health is something of a calling. Years ago, I saw it as a means of changing the world for one person at a time. When I do my job well, it doesn’t look like I’m doing a thing. If I prevent a client’s illness or injury, those things never happen, and that is a pleasure all its own. We have to be the kind of people who take great joy in being the only person who knows we accomplished anything at all. That’s fundamental to all nursing, but it’s particularly so for home health.
When I was in nursing school, people would ask if I was going on to medical school. Intelligent women were supposed to become doctors--we were liberated and free to pursue more prestigious occupations than nursing. That just wasn’t the path for me. Doing a job that looks like you’re not doing anything isn’t for the feint of heart. Most people want others to see something great in themselves--we want credit or a title. There are no accolades if the illness or injury never happens in the first place. There might even be complaints about the things we do to make sure nothing happens.
This Home Health and Hospice Month, we are commemorating the power of caring. Often these appreciation days, weeks, and months focus on dramatic moments or great sacrifice. I’d like to recognize the absence of drama as the great event it is--like appreciating getting home from work without a car accident. We need to acknowledge and appreciate not falling and breaking a hip, not developing a sacral ulcer, or contracting pneumonia, and living another day at home with control over our lives because we are there. So, if you have home health and it doesn’t seem like they are doing anything because since they’ve been providing your care nothing has happened, treat that nothing like the wonderful service it is.
Happy Home Health and Hospice Month!