A Hospice Nurse Forever!

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Meet Delaware Hospice’s Admissions Nurse, Amanda Jamieson.

Amanda Jamieson probably became a nurse because her aunt was a nurse for 20 years.  “She influenced me tremendously and encouraged me to try nursing.  I did, and I loved it! ”

When Amanda’s grandmother became ill, the family asked Delaware Hospice to help care for her.  Amanda witnessed firsthand the type of care offered.  She said, “They really do hands-on patient-focused care.  When you are nursing in other facilities, you must do your required tasks, then hurry up to the next patient.  You don’t have time to spend with one patient to really understand his or her needs, or who they are.  It was quite beneficial to be in a position to compare specialties, and I became convinced that my future would be as a hospice nurse.

Delaware Hospice hired Amanda as a registered nurse in the Admissions Department and trained her to do home visits as well as to assess individuals for admissions to the program.   Amanda was ecstatic about the opportunity and five years later remains equally as enthusiastic.

Amanda described a typical visit.   “We are the first team member to make a visit, so we never know what to expect and it’s often a bit chaotic.  We spend time listening to the patient and caregivers, trying to figure out what’s going on.  There’s always a reason to call.  No one just wakes up one day and decides to call Delaware Hospice.  We then educate the family about our services, and we work with the patient’s physician to review and organize medications.”

For the past two and a half years, Amanda has held the position of hospital liaison at Christiana Hospital.  “I love it here, she said.  “I am all over the place, visiting patients, seeing new referrals.  Staff knows to call me if their patients have questions.  Doctors and social workers call me directly about new referrals.  Everyone has my cell phone number.  A physician can pick up the phone and say, “Hey, Amanda, can you come up real quick?”

“Sometimes a decision is made to stop a patient’s treatment and the family is in a crisis situation.  They are on their way home and don’t know how to care for their loved one.  I’ll come in to talk with them and work with them through the transitional process.  We always focus on the care, wherever the patient and family want it, and do whatever we can to facilitate that.

Coincidentally, Amanda was born in Christiana Hospital.  She lived in Newark until a recent move to Middletown with her husband and two children, aged 3 and 1 year old.

Amanda graduated with an Associates Degree as a Registered Nurse from Del Tech, then earned her Bachelors Degree from Wilmington University, and has continued her education in the Nurse Practitioner Program.  She expects to graduate next year.

She said, “My future plans definitely include staying on at Delaware Hospice, eventually as a Nurse Practitioner.  I can’t see myself doing any other type of work!”

Asked how hospice work has impacted her, Amanda replied, “It’s changed my whole outlook.  This type of care has such a positive effect.  It’s wonderful to be able to provide care to a family, to give them a sense of relief as you take some of the pressure from them; and to encourage them that they can do this.”

She said, “Initially, the family might not even want to talk to us.  However, once they do and they realize how much we offer, it’s a great relief to them.  There’s such a misperception in the public that we simply come in with meds and it’s the end.  It’s just not true.  We come in, we manage symptoms, and we support family members including children.  We help the patient and family live life’s special moments to the fullest.  Once we break that barrier of misperception and overcome those obstacles, they feel such relief and appreciation for our help.”

Amanda talked about families’ fears.  “Their greatest fear is that they’ll be home and unable to care for their loved one–unable to take care of basic needs.  With the support of Delaware Hospice’s team, they no longer need to worry about this.  We take it one day at a time, working with the best plan of care for each family.  Each family varies on the needs.  It might be as basic as medication, or it might be where to get more care.”

Others fear the cost.  How much?  Will my insurance pay for it?  When they hear that we’re a nonprofit hospice; and that even if you lose your insurance, we’re still going to be there with you.  You’re not going to see a bill—it lights up their eyes!”

Alan Henderson, Delaware Hospice’s business development manager said, “Amanda Jamieson is the essence of what a hospice nurse should be when it comes to patient care.  She’s all about delivering the care necessary to elevate a patient and family’s quality of life.  Amanda is an excellent nurse and has been recognized as such by the physicians and clinicians in the hospital.”

More than nursing skills, an admissions nurse must be able to educate the patient and family.  This may involve teaching how to turn patients, or simply reassuring them or getting them started in a caregiver’s role.   Amanda remembered one family ready to transition to their home to care for a loved one.  At the last minute the home care aide didn’t work out.  She said, “The caregiver was in tears, frantic.  I said, ‘Give me the phone.  We’re going to call health agencies together to find someone satisfactory.’  So we went through it together and you could just see the relief in her face.”

Why is hospice nursing such a rewarding experience?  Amanda said, “Our families don’t realize how much they help me more than I help them.  They give me such a different perspective on life.   They hug me and thank me, but they have no idea how much they have impacted my life in a positive way.”

“I wasn’t sure before, but now that I’m here, I have no desire to be anywhere else.  I’d rather be here doing this.  I want to talk to the families, learn what they really need, be able to help them work with the doctors, and figure out how they can get home or wherever they want to go.”

“I want to be a hospice nurse forever!”

Story and photo by Beverly Crowl

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