More Than 24-Hour In-Home Care Was Needed
Marian was in crisis. Her grandsons, who were caring for her in her home, could only do so much to support their grandmother. They too needed help. They signed on with Lifesprk services but the next day changed direction. Marian discovered she had terminal cancer and they were going to contact hospice instead.
However, Vicki Condon, RN, Lifesprk Life Care Manager (LCM) who had met with Marian and her family knew that the family would need 24-hour support, more than hospice could provide alone. She wasn’t surprised when days later Marian’s friend, Judy, called Vicki: “hindsight 20/20, we should have gone with Lifesprk the whole time.”
“Her grandsons provided tremendous support but there were limits to what they could handle. They loved their grandmother deeply but the intimacies of helping her shower and get dressed were something they weren’t used to doing. Hospice is a wonderful support at end-of-life but it’s these little daily things people often forget about that hospice isn’t able to provide consistently,” shared Vicki. “We were able to offer a 24-hour caregiver and a nurse to come daily to check in, report back to hospice and help with medications. This was a relief for the family.”
But the unexpected, unscripted support came when they least expected it.
Pamela, Marian’s Lifesprk caregiver, called Vicki with concern, asking her, “When are you coming? Her breathing is unsteady and irregular.” Vicki reassuringly gave Pamela clear directions over the phone, “I’m on my way, stay calm. We need this experience to be calming for Marian.” With that, Vicki hung up the phone and arrived at Marian’s house.
Tensions were high. The family was not prepared for this drastic change in Marian’s health. “This is a very nerve-wracking, scary scene for those who aren’t used to seeing their loved one like this,” said Vicki. “It was clear to me, Marian was actively dying.” Vicki quickly and calmly took control of the situation, and as friends and family gathered around Marian’s bedside, Vicki encouraged them to use this time to say what they needed to Marian as she knew the time was drawing near.
In Marian’s room stood her grandsons, her daughter, a good friend, and her closest friend, Judy. But Marian’s breathing was so irregular it made everyone uneasy. The emotions in the room were tense.
Vicki calmly asked, “Would you mind if I sing?” And she began to sing Amazing Grace. As Vicki sang, Marian’s friend pointed to Marian and said ‘look, her breathing is slowing down and more regular. She is letting go.’ After the last verse, they stood together reveling in the peaceful quiet with tears in their eyes. Moments later, Marian passed away.
Moved by Vicki’s soothing music, Marian’s family asked her to sing at the funeral. As Vicki sang Amazing Grace once again, she was humbled by the experience she was a part of. Marian’s grandson said, “People need to know the profound effect you and Lifesprk have on people’s lives.” In one moment, Vicki was able to change the experience for Marian when she needed it most. When they were all lost in their feelings of sadness, a spark was found in the form of song giving Vicki the grace to help Marian pass away peacefully, surrounded by the people and things she loved most.