Celebrating Nurses | Natalie Smith

We are celebrating nurses this month! Meet Natalie Smith and learn why she has a passion for nursing.

Springhill Home Health and Hospice nurse Natalie Smith shared stories of her nursing career and the successes and joys of her profession.
Four years into her nursing career, Natalie joined the Springhill Home Health and Hospice team. Nine years later, she is still dedicated to the company’s mission of serving patients and their families through hospice.

Natalie said being a hospice nurse means more than just taking care of the physical body of her patients. “Yes, we strive to provide as much physical comfort as possible, but it’s so much more than that. I personally love being able to step in and help a family who may not have felt comfortable or confident that they could provide the care their loved one needed,” she said. “We help support and reassure the family and provide them with the tools they need to adequately care for [a] family member or friend at such a difficult time in their life.”

She said that her ultimate goal with each family that she serves is to help them see end of life as a peaceful memory rather than a stressful event. When a loved one passes, Natalie’s hope is that their family will have peace and comfort from knowing that they fulfilled their family member’s wish to pass at home with their family by their side. “I love being able to provide that encouragement and reassurance,” she said.

Natalie said her very first hospice case management experience served as a guide for the rest of her time as a hospice nurse and made her “fall in love with hospice nursing”. Natalie said, “[My patient had extenuating circumstances] with minimal family support. His symptoms were extremely difficult to manage, and I felt like I spent most of my days with him. He did have a brother to step in and care for him, [but] he was not confident and was very overwhelmed. (I tried not to show it, but so was I!) I must have called our nurse practitioner a dozen times a day, but he was patient with me and educated me on every step [we should take], and [he] reassured me throughout the whole process. I learned just about everything I would ever see in hospice during that time. In the end the caregiver provided amazing care, the patient had a peaceful transition, and the family was at peace. I will never forget that experience. It was the most [stressed] I’ve ever felt, but the lessons I learned have stayed with me.”

What a joy to have nurses in the field who love the profession as Natalie does! Happy Nurses Week to Natalie, our Springhill Home Health and Hospice Nurses, and the nurses around the world who work tirelessly to provide compassionate care for patients and their families.

Volunteering with Hospice

Volunteers are an essential part of a hospice team, participating in roles from directly interacting with patients to helping with fundraising efforts. Hospice volunteers often describe their work as purposeful, validating, and meaningful. Hospice volunteers are at the heart of every hospice operation and are valued greatly.

How Hospice Volunteers Serve

Supporting Patients

This is a huge part of what hospice volunteers do. These tasks can include: visiting with patients, reading, taking walks, helping communicate for patients, bringing in therapeutic items, or supervising therapeutic visits. This list is not all-encompassing, and volunteers can do so much more for the patients they work with.

Comforting Family Members

Volunteers can do anything from listening to family members, sitting with them, or helping them with simple tasks like running errands or taking care of family pets. They are also able to help family members have some time alone by sitting with patients while family members take a nap or walk.

Fundraising and Administrative Work

Volunteers can also help hospice organizations by using their skills in the office with administrative duties. Fundraising efforts can include helping with mailings, contacting donors, facilitating events or writing thank-you letters.

Special Skills and Interests

In addition to everything listed above, each volunteer has their own set of skills or interests that could be of use to the hospice they are volunteering for. This could include skills such as: landscaping, musicians, barbers, notaries, sewing, etc. If you feel that your local hospice could benefit from a skill you enjoy, reach out!

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with Springhill Home Health & Hospice, please reach out by contacting one of our offices near you today.

Safe Activities to Enjoy While Social Distancing

Due to COVID-19, more and more Americans are practicing social distancing. While working at home, schooling from home, and sheltering in place, it’s understandable to wish for a simpler time when you could leave the house or interact with others outside of your household without worry. With new recommendations from the White House to continue social distancing through at least April 30, it’s more important than ever add a variety of entertainment to your life to keep yourself from feeling stir crazy. Here is a list of activities to help pass the time at a socially responsible distance:

  1. Utilize social media and video apps to stay connected to friends and family. Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Zoom are all video options you can use to connect with your long-distance friends.
  2. Walk, jog, hike or bike outdoors (while practicing social distancing from others).
  3. Read your neighborhood forums to see what types of social-distancing activities they have in place. For example, many neighborhoods are participating in bear hunts, where community members place teddy bears in windows so that kids can look for and count bears during their walks.
  4. Take a virtual tour of the Yellowstone National Park: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm. Many parks, aquariums, and zoos are offering free online tours or virtual experiences at this time.
  5. Write letters to your friends, family, nursing homes, and first responders.
  6. Do some spring cleaning.
  7. Play cards, board games or do a puzzle with your immediate family.
  8. Cook dinner – make a pizza from scratch or try a recipe that you’ve never made before because it was time-consuming.
  9. Join an online book club or meet with your friends virtually to discuss a book.
  10. Take a nap.
  11. Watch a movie or your favorite TV series on Netflix.
  12. Dig out your old coloring books. Coloring isn’t just for kids!
  13. Call the elderly people in your life and check on them. This would be a great time to interview your grandparents to learn more about their lives.
  14. Make a photobook online by uploading your favorite pictures from this past year.
  15. Buy gift cards from your favorite local businesses to use after social-distancing ends.

Let’s make the best out of this current situation by staying positive and being responsible. Spread the love, not COVID-19!

Life-Limiting Illnesses – When to Call Hospice

A life-limiting illness is an incurable chronic disease or condition that no longer respond to curative treatments.

Examples of a life-limiting illness include:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
  • Stroke
  • ALS
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Pulmonary Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • End-stage Renal Disease
  • AIDS
  • Cancer

A life limiting illness, coupled with symptoms below, could be indicators of decline and hospice eligibility:

  • Frequent hospitalizations, ER visits, or visits to the physician within the last six months
  • Progressive weight loss (with consideration to weight gain factors such as edema, when applicable)
  • Decreasing appetite
  • Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing
  • Increased weakness or fatigue
  • Decline in cognitive status or functional abilities
  • Increasing assistance needed with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
  • Increasing pain or increasing difficulty in controlling pain
  • Increasing dyspnea or shortness of breath
  • Oxygen dependency
  • Reoccurring infections
  • Ascites
  • Increased nausea and/or vomiting that is difficult to control
  • A desire to forgo future hospitalizations
  • A request to discontinue treatment
  • Recurrent or frequent infections
  • Skin breakdown
  • A specific decline in condition

If you or a loved one has a life-limiting illness and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consider speaking to your physician about hospice services. You can also call Springhill Home Health & Hospice, and one of our team members can help guide you through the process of requesting hospice through your physician. Call Springhill Home Health and Hospice today at (251) 725-1268 (Mobile) or (251) 626-5895 (Baldwin).

Our “Why” During COVID-19

Times of uncertainty often bring about reflection on our individual mission and purpose – our “why” in life.  We all have a different “why” that has been formed through our passions and life experiences.  Maybe your mission and purpose in life is teaching and mentoring the youth in your community, or maybe it is working in law enforcement to keep your community safe.  Across the company, we are fortunate to have some of the healthcare industry’s most talented professionals whose “why” also aligns with our mission to provide first-class care to our patients and their families.

While we all adjust to changes in our daily lives, our employees are continuing to fulfill their commitment to our patients.  From conducting music therapy in outdoor nursing home courtyards to providing meals for hospital staff and first responders, the current pandemic has even given us the opportunity to be creative in carrying out our mission.

As stated by Rosie Avila, Community Liaison at our Nurses in Touch location, “our purpose here is not for ourselves; it’s for others and in turn their purpose was for us.”  This rings true throughout the company, and our employees are living out their mission and purpose every day.

What is your mission and purpose – your “why” in life?  Perhaps it will be uncovered during these times.  Perhaps it will align with ours.  Perhaps it will provide an opportunity for us to partner in carrying out our missions to support our communities.  We are all in this together! Springhill Home Health & Hospice is here for you.