“Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.”
Nearly everyone hears this or a version of it while growing up, as did I. It took on a much deeper meaning for me years later when my mother received hospice care at home.
The hospice team – and especially the aide who gave personal care – took such good care of my mom. I will never forget how they made her comfortable and treated her with dignity and respect. I was in my early 30s and I knew then that someday I would become a hospice aide and help patients the way my mother’s aide helped her.
I became a certified nursing assistant 30 years ago. I worked for various home health agencies and then spent 15 years with one skilled nursing facility. I met some Care Dimensions hospice aides who cared for patients at my workplace. I told them I wanted to work in hospice, and they encouraged me to apply to Care Dimensions. Although I had been at one facility for a long time, I still wanted to help hospice patients the way aides had helped my mom.
I joined Care Dimensions as a hospice aide five years ago and enjoy it very much. They have a good work culture. I know that I can go to my manager anytime I have a concern and that I will be heard. She is very understanding and always offers help.
What really makes my job special is that it’s rewarding. I’m glad to be able to help a family enjoy time with their loved one. I know what that’s like because of the time I had with my mom when she was nearing the end of her life. Each case is different depending on the family and their culture. I do whatever I can to help the patient be comfortable and allow the family to focus on their loved one.
I remember one patient who wanted to do things for himself. He didn’t want me to shave him. I wasn’t offended. I bought him a small mirror that he held while shaving with an electric razor and I watched closely. He was so happy that he could shave himself, which also made his wife and family happy. He was sick, but he was still the same person he always had been, and a simple thing like shaving himself gave him dignity at a difficult time.
Sometimes I’ll sing soft songs to patients and gently massage their hands when they’re close to dying. I remember doing this with a patient who was nonverbal. She looked at me. I asked her if she enjoyed the song and massage. She nodded, which made me feel happy. The Care Dimensions music therapist came in for a scheduled session just before I finished. She told me I had done a good job and that we worked well as a team for this patient, who was beaming when I left.
I always do what I would want for my own family members if they were nearing the end of their lives. I want my patients to have the best end of life possible and not be afraid of dying. I am grateful for the compassionate care my mom received many years ago and am honored to help others in their end-of-life journeys as a Care Dimensions hospice aide.
About the author
Marise Belice, CNA, is a hospice aide with Care Dimensions.
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Since 1978, Care Dimensions, formerly Hospice of the North Shore, has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in over 100 communities in Massachusetts.