Being a Hospice Advocate: What Does is it Mean?

Categories: Community Engagement.

Working in the NHPCO Solutions Center and supporting Infoline has taught me a great deal about the hospice field. From assisting NHPCO members to educating consumers, I have become quite knowledgeable about the hospice community and the many benefits that hospice and palliative care offer to patients and family caregivers. More importantly, working here has made me realize that I have become more than an NHPCO employee but something else – a hospice advocate.

When I started working here, I was under the impression that hospice advocacy only applied to those directly in the field – nurses, social workers, doctors, etc. Over time, I started questioning myself regarding my own feelings about hospice and end of life issues- Does hospice apply to me since my college degree is not in the medical field? Should it concern me since no one close to me is dying? Through my experiences, I have slowly come to the realization that anyone- regardless of profession – can be a hospice advocate if they have compassion for those at the end of life. Although having the educational credentials and background does help, advocacy does not require much except your willingness to have compassion for those that are at the end of life.

Whether speaking to family members or friends, I find myself educating others on the basics of hospice because many people do not understand its benefits. Many people think it is a depressing subject that is not worth discussing. I have even met some people that mock it and joke about it. I explain to them that death is a serious issue and watching your loved-ones suffer in their last days can be unbearable.

When people ask me about my job I usually tell them that it is tad bit depressing but quite rewarding. Whether helping a consumer find a hospice in their local area or mailing out educational materials, I explain how wonderful it feels to promote an industry that can alleviate pain and suffering for caregivers and their loved ones.

With all of the information out there from websites to news articles, all one has to do is educate themselves and question their core values – how much do I care about people? What can I do to improve the quality of living at the end of life? Hopefully more and more people will become hospice advocates. All one has to do is look inside themselves and question their core values.

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Learn more about the 2017 Hospice Action Network Advocacy Intensive, July 17-18.

Cassius Harris has been an employee of the NHPCO Solutions Center for over nine years. Cassius has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sports Communications from Marshall University in Huntington, WV.