Feeling the Care

Over the last 13 months Sarah Wiggins has learned a lot about hospice, but the most important thing wasn’t about procedures or medication; it was to be kind to herself.

“There’s this self-doubt that you have,” Sarah said. “Am I doing the right thing for my mom? And they [hospice] have the ability, because they are a step back and look at the bigger picture, and say, ‘Yes, you’re doing the right thing.’”

Nancy (right) and her grandchildren, Travis and Michelle.
Sarah went through this struggle twice in the last year; first with her dad in December 2014, and then with her mom the following December.

Her dad had gone into the hospital on a Monday because he was dizzy and disoriented. He was also extremely agitated and his health was declining. His conditioned worsened, and a few days later, doctors asked Sarah if she had thought about palliative care for him.

“I said, ‘I want him to go. I want him to be with God,’” she said. “He wasn’t himself because he was so agitated.”

Sarah looked at a few facilities before choosing Angela Hospice. When they were debating whether or not he should stay in the hospital she was told hospice could take care of him there, which they did. He passed away the following Sunday.

After her father’s passing Sarah moved her mom, Nancy, into assisted living. Flash forward about a year, and Sarah, an only child, was dealing with another parent’s decline.

Nancy had had a series of seizures at the beginning of December. This on top of her dementia made her mental capacity decline considerably before she started to come back from it Sarah said. She was admitted into Angela Hospice care soon after and then the rollercoaster ride really began for Sarah.

“It was kind of a ride with hospice,” Sarah said. “Should she be here? Should she be in rehab? It was no, hospice can take care of her and we can reevaluate as we go along. So that’s kind of what we did.

“I felt being with hospice was better for her because she’d have eyes on her so many more times,” she continued. “It was a no-brainer as far as the care she was going to get.”

Sarah said that her mother was a “hard duck” when it came to being made comfortable. There was one weekend the on-call nurse was called five times because Nancy would get started on one medicine that would normally take care of everything for everybody else but didn’t work for her. Then she would go on the next medicine that most people would use and that didn’t work either. Though this was one of the toughest weekends for both of them, Sarah was beyond grateful that everyone kept trying until her mother was no longer agitated.

And there was one person in particular who Sarah mentioned, Angela Hospice RN Raphaelle Pierce.

“She was like: ‘This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to make her comfortable, and I’m not going to leave until I make her comfortable, and until we know that everything’s OK,’” Sarah said. “I really appreciated the consistency with that.”

Sarah wasn’t only impressed with the high level of care her parents received from Angela Hospice but the care she and the rest of her family got as well.

“It’s been really intense but I really appreciated the way my family’s been cared for,” she said as tears began to fill her eyes. “All the way from my children…the way y’all check on us, see how everybody is doing, I just felt…I felt the care.”

“And it’s not superficial,” Sarah continued. “It’s not just, ‘Oh, I need to call everybody to check up.’ It’s not going down a punch list. No, it’s ‘I really care about the people that we serve.’ I felt that there was a lot of care from everybody.”

While Nancy spent most of her time in Angela Hospice care while living in an assisted living facility, her last days were spent at the Care Center. Sarah said when Nancy was moved to the Care Center she could finally take a breath. Sarah also no longer felt like she needed to be there 24/7 because she knew her mom was in really, really good hands.

Another thing Sarah liked about the Care Center: the quiet.

“I felt like when we walked in her room…it was just peaceful,” Sarah said.

Her father also got the same sort of peace during his time in Angela Hospice care. Seeing how calm and at peace her father was towards the end of his life played a part in why Sarah choose to use Angela Hospice again for her mom.

“I wouldn’t have gone with anybody else,” she said.

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