Sunday, June 14, 2015

Top 5 regrets of the dying

My dear friend Rajhav turned 50 last year and has been researching the broad topic of meaning and fulfilment in life. Some of you may laugh and say - hasn't he got anything better to do, to which I say hmmm! What else is there? 

One of the gems he found was top 5 regrets of the dying which he decided  to share with with me.

This is written by a palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware based on her experience of taking care of the dying. 

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."
What's your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What do you find when you go undercover as an aged care support worker?

As the CEO of Southcare I recently had the great opportunity of spending the day with one of the Southcare Support Workers Cathy, who has over 25 years’ experience working in the Aged Care sector.  I took on the role of being a new support worker and Cathy was my mentor/buddy.

The day started at 7am, our first client was a lady who lives alone, is just over 90 years of age and needed assistance with personal care and meal preparation. As a support worker you really are in a very privileged relationship with the client. They let us into their homes, they allow us to support them in their personal care needs and they share with us their lives, both the present and their past. How wonderful it was to see their vast array of photos, their personal possessions that are dear to them. The history, their life stories, the wonders of their children, grandchildren, past pets and pastimes.   
As I took in all this information about the client, I also thought about how professional Cathy was in engaging with the client whilst checking their care plans, remembering all the little details about each of the clients ‘special ways’  and various needs. The role was busy, varied, rewarding and energising. Cathy was held in high regard by the client’s, they liked her warmth, her humour and her pragmatic approach. 

Over 50% of Southcare’s clients are over 80 years of age and many are quite frail and live alone. Cathy’s ability to pace herself in line with the client’s needs and desires was inspiring to experience.  That balance between times constraints of each client’s service, yet not rushing the client so they feel like a burden.

Client centric support workers are the foundation of Southcare’s business – excellent client care is given when support workers love what they are doing. We are clear about having engaged employees.  We know we need to ensure we employ the right people who are customers focused and look after them. We support our support workers, both physically and emotionally. The right resources, rewards, recognition, equipment, communication, learning and training will enable us to keep on providing excellent client care and support.