As a Nurse Manager and as a peer, I experienced the degree of expertise and compassion demonstrated by Trish daily and as a Chief Nurse have learned to rely on her knowledge and innovations. Her work environment is tough, and the challenges are intense. The challenges require a balance of work and self to achieve the goals and outcomes so deserved by those Veterans, their families, and their support systems. What immediately caught my attention and amazes me (in addition to her clinical proficiency) is the relentless degree of energy that she spends on making the work world better for her peers too.
The balance mentioned is where Trish so openly speaks and works. I could recite endless Veteran experiences where her work is stellar, from effectively managing the symptoms of pain, anxiety, worry, shortness of breath and fear to comforting and explaining what is happening (and is to happen) to the weary, sad and confused family members. The patience and level of understanding displayed is always “present”.
The “present” journey that Trish reminds of us and demonstrates includes self-care and the need for personal reflection as we work. She has in the last year, strengthened the utilization of those interventions that have been viewed, historically and at times, as non-helpful and not necessary. An example of this led this facility to adopt “moment of mindfulness” as a nursing goal. Trish focused nursing staff during lots of educational sessions on centering self on the Veteran, the intervention and the care necessary in that moment. We all know that distractions may cause errors and that frustration may lead to nurse dissatisfaction, health issues and poor outcomes for those served. To stop for a moment, take a deep breath, think about the task at hand seems so simple, but incorporating those steps into practice is not.
In addition to her work to encourage focus and attention, Trish has consistently worked on her personal and “present” journey to hone her skills regarding integrative techniques. Hours of education regarding meditation, healing touch, use of sounds and smells have all been shared with her peers and with a broader group of providers in this facility. This wider net of nursing interventions has been helpful in addressing the wide range of needs for the Hospice Veteran.
She has participated in the facility self-care courses and is recognized as an expert in the field. She works in the community to introduce these skills to populations where life management, personal loss of liberty, self-care, financial strain, and burdens weigh significantly on future choices and well-being. Her goal is to always provide a solid and helpful foundation.
In the last week, Trish has initiated an anointing event following the passing of a Veteran. After gaining permission from the support system, nursing staff uses drops of lavender oil, calming music, and a scripted dialogue to promote closure, acknowledgment of the Veteran’s life and work and the encouragement to finally rest well. Again, she has offered informational sessions to her peers and leads in offering this event.
A Veteran was actively dying and sadly, had no family. Trish sat after her tour at his bedside to offer a warm hand, a sweet smile and her presence during this transition. This was not the time nor was there the need for high-end pharmacological interventions, intravenous drips or noisy machines, the time was quiet, peaceful and still and perfect for the situation.
Trish embodies the caring and compassion which are core to the nursing. Her focus on the absolute best care to those on the Hospice unit include the Veterans and her peers. I greatly appreciate that Trish never “just settles”, she constantly is seeking, learning, reviewing and working for improvements for those she is “present” with.