Nurse Assistant Week 2017 featuring Kendra Bennett
by: Whitney Prather
National Nursing Assistant Week is a time where we recognize the around-the-clock dedication and hard work that nursing assistants (or nurse-aides) provide to patients throughout the US.
We pay homage to the profession that bathes, dresses, grooms, feeds, repositions, provides bathroom assistance, keeps house, measures vital signs, and communicates important information for the betterment of a population that is aging, and is temporally or terminally ill.
If physicians are the masterminds behind the plan of care, and registered nurses, the drivers of it, then nurse-aides are the glue that holds it all together. Nursing assistants provide the basic, but crucial care that’s needed for patients to achieve their daily living activities. You’ll find these nurse-aides in hospitals, nursing homes, and home settings.
We recently connected with Kendra Bennett, nurse-aide for Absolute Hospice. She’s been with the Absolute family of companies since 2011, starting as a home health aide with our home care agency. When Absolute Hospice opened its doors in 2014, she continued her journey there.
Kendra says working with hospice patients can be both rewarding and heartbreaking at the same time. It’s in my talk with her that I learned that hospice workers are a different breed. They acknowledge the paradoxical situation that they find themselves in every day - straddling the thin line of sadness and joy, grief and privilege, heartache and peace.
Considering all of this, begs the question – why would anyone choose a career in hospice?
On her way into the office to stock up on supplies for patients – shampoo, body wash, lip balm - I caught up with Kendra to ask her just that, and more. Keep reading to learn why she, along with many other hospice workers, have a burning passion for what they do.
Whitney (W): Kendra, happy STNA week! Thank you for agreeing to chat with me – I know you’re busy so I appreciate your time!
Kendra (K): Thank you and you’re welcome! It’s my pleasure.
W: First question out of the gate – why hospice?
K: I chose to be a hospice aide because I really like helping people when they need it most. I enjoy it! Our patients are in a very vulnerable stage in their lives, and making them feel comfortable, clean, and cared for actually, makes me feel good. At the end of the day, I feel like I accomplished some real good in the world.
W: Do you bond with your patients?
K: Oh, absolutely! I tend to talk a lot about my pets. I have a Bengal cat named, Caesar; a Doberman named Mako; and a cockapoo named, Rosie. They get a kick out of it, and ask me “How're the animals?” They love it when I share photos.
W: For those of us who don’t know what this work looks like up close and personal, can you share some emotional ramifications of being in this profession? Of being this close to death?
K: In hospice, everyone matters – it’s our philosophy, right? So, what that boils down to is that we don’t approach our patients like tasks to be accomplished. We get to know them, their families, their preferences, and then we serve them. We take the time to achieve closeness with them. The reality is that when you see someone three times a week and build rapport with them, they become almost like family. And, even though we know the inevitable is coming and that this is indeed hospice, it still stings.
W: So, how do you cope?
K: Of course, I get emotional, cry, or get upset. I really try to process through it by telling myself, what I tell the families. That they’re in a better place now, with no pain or sickness, that they’re finally home with God- and that helps me. You have to be a very compassionate and caring person to do this work – to help people in their final stages of life! Being a hospice aide is a calling.
The long and the short of it is that hospice is difficult. It’s not easy for the patients, families, or workers. But like Kendra said, it’s a calling. And for those who are called, there’s a joy in providing hospice care.
Kendra began her career as an STNA in 2009. Her and long-time boyfriend, Brian, enjoy camping in their RV, hiking and exploring the great outdoors.
About Absolute Home Health & Hospice:
Absolute Home Health and Hospice provides home health care, palliative and hospice care, and family support services to people who are dealing with chronic illness and terminal diagnosis.
We're dedicated to helping our patients live well and comfortably as long as possible. Learn more about our integrated and seamless approach at www.abshealth.com.