We close out Nursing Assistants Week with another spotlight on our Suncoast Hospice aides and their compassion, care and comfort for patients and families.
In her first 20 years as a licensed certified nursing assistant (CNA), Jennifer Fountain cared for patients and then expanded into administration and other aspects of health care. Four years ago, she returned to patient care with an organization near and dear to her heart – Suncoast Hospice.
Caring for Mom
“Suncoast Hospice touched me and that was the reason I came to work as a CNA caregiver here. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I cared for my mom with the help of Suncoast Hospice. I knew that when my mom passed I was going to give back. I can’t picture myself doing anything else,” Fountain explained.
The Suncoast Hospice Green Team comforted her mom’s pain and supported the family.
Fountain shared, “My mom was a nurse and I worked in health care, but I never truly understood the impact of the role of hospice. Without the Green Team it would have been a completely different experience. There were a lot of ups and downs with my mom. They gave me the chance to be a daughter and to cry.”
Spending a traditional holiday and last months with her mom are sweet memories.
“My mom’s thing was Christmas. I brought her home from the hospital with Suncoast Hospice a week before Christmas. I got out all the Christmas stuff and threw a big Christmas party, thinking it could be her last Christmas. She started getting better and becoming clearer. She said she couldn’t remember celebrating Christmas. In February we whipped out all the Christmas stuff, redecorated and had Christmas again. Hospice was there to help. They had my back,” she said.
She also cherishes being at her mom’s bedside during her last moments.
“She ended up living until April. Our team had a continuous care nurse come. They gave her meds and my two daughters and I were able to hold her. She died in my arms,” she shared.
Caring for Patients and Families
Fountain now cares for patients and families in nursing homes and assisted living facilities as part of the Suncoast Hospice Pearl Team. She brings her own hospice experience and understanding, develops close connections with those in her care and tends to their personal needs.
“As CNAs, we have an important job. We have the most contact with patients and families in their everyday life and are there for their most intimate times. Every day is different. I might start my day showering patients, taking them for walks or lifting their spirits, or I may talk with family members. It takes organization. Most of all it takes heart. I can relate with my families and help them feel that it’s okay to feel angry, sad or guilty. I try to make it the best for them,” she noted.
Her focus is to help patients look and feel good and to create positive memories.
She shared, “My mom always had on her lipstick and had her roots done. I still made sure that she looked like how she wanted. When I take care of my patients I think of her. I want to make sure they look like what they want. That’s dignity. It’s important because that’s what families are going to remember.”
Team Making a Difference
Fountain and her team work hand-and-hand to support patients and families and ease their journeys.
“We are each other’s eyes and ears. We touch people as social workers, nurses, spiritual care coordinators and a team. I don’t think people really understand how much hospice can do for them. It doesn’t mean you give up on life. We provide them with a better life in those last six months. We are the difference between a tragic death or a beautiful one,” she expressed.
She is honored to give back the kind of care that helped her mom and family.
“Our spiritual care coordinator, Doug, is the one who I had when my mom was dying. Everything comes full-circle. It’s so rewarding knowing that I have a little part in somebody’s experience. I know I can make a difference by playing patients’ favorite music, giving them a gentle massage or just holding their hands. When you are that close to people at the end of life, it’s like you share a little bond. There’s no better feeling than that,” she added.
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