In your career as a home health aide, you will come across the death of a client. This could occur under your watch or while you are not there with them. In either case, there is an emotional response on the part of the caregivers to grieve for the loss of a human life. The key part to surviving in this career field is to learn how to handle these situations. You will not last very long in this job without handling this properly.
Acceptance and Understanding
As a home health aide, we have been called to provide a service to clients in need. Each of our clients is a human being with a life. They have histories, families, friends and associates. They had careers, vacations, ambitions, and goals. They had a voice, they made an impact and they mattered in their realm to those around them. Even if you only worked with a client for a short time, you were a part of their lives. In essence, you played a major role in their lives. You are the one that made the ending a more relaxed and enjoyable experience than they had feared throughout their lives. Feeling a loss for your client is normal and real. The key is to accept the feelings you have for the loss of that client’s life and to understand that it is a part of the life cycle. There is nothing wrong with moving on with your life afterwards. Remain confident that your passed client would want you to continue on and do for other clients that you had done for them.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by a passing or dealing with the number of passing’s you deal with in your career, seek counseling to sort your feelings. There is nothing wrong with this and it cannot hurt your career. Many healthcare workers see counselors top help them sort their feelings and help them to separate their jobs from their personal lives. You need to maintain that balance to keep one from affecting the other. If you find that dealing with the ongoing deaths of clients is seriously overtaking you, you may want to consider leaving the field for your own wellbeing. Many people leave this field simply from being overwhelmed with it.
One of the most memorable moments of my career took place in a nursing home. When I started working for this place, a resident I met was in the rehab unit and was as articulate and active as any normal adult. Sadly over the course of a couple years her condition worsened and she lived out her final days in long term care. She stopped speaking months before she died. The day she passed I was working her unit. Her daughter was called in to spend her final hours with her mother and we left them alone.
When her mother passed away, the daughter rang her call light and I responded. After the nurses handled the pronouncement of her death, I was cleaning the resident and preparing her for her final ride as we called it. When I was done, the daughter told me that her mother spoke for a few moments before her death. She told me after she told her daughter she loved her, she told her daughter to “tell Chris I said Thank You”. Moments later she passed away. I believe this really happened. Its moments like these that justify what I did in this career. You will have these as well, and that’s how I deal with this part of my job…the memories.