Monday, December 15, 2014

Three ways to safely navigate the holidays ...

Three ways to safely navigating through the holidays … The holiday season is in full force. Have you noticed how unbelievably busy life has become in such a short while since Thanksgiving? There are some things that I know have not changed one bit: 1) Your caseload and the needs of the patients has probably gotten larger and more complex; 2) The patients’ families are as stressed if not more so because this will probably be the last Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa their loved one will be here; 3) The changes that Medicare is bringing make your work that much more complex. So … what can you do to keep your head squarely on your shoulders and get good spiritual care done? First, do not get behind. If you get behind in your visits, it will be incredibly difficult to catch up. No doubt, you are already penciled in for PTO and as we all know, staying in compliance is a monthly challenge, but never has the challenge been greater than this month. Second, honor the spirituality of your patients as never before. I get phone calls from nurses and home health aides wanting to know how to help their patients celebrate Christmas and Chanukah. Their biggest concern is not to offend the patient. Here are at Cornerstone Hospice, we are accredited by the National Institute for Jewish Hospice and as part of the accreditation we receive a Jewish Holiday information sheet which gives sage advice on how to assist our patients with Chanukah. On Sunday I sent out the information sheet to our entire staff. They are now equipped to assist our Jewish patients. Regarding Christian patients, reading the nativity passages from Matthew and/or Luke is usually well-received. Third, practice wise self-care. You are pressing to get your entire caseload visited before PTO. You are attending church or faith community functions. Things happen that keep you awake at night. Life presses forward whether you are ready or not. I urge you to practice smart self-care. Getting rest, eating right, exercising, being able to say “No” to just one more invitation, and so forth are all pieces of the puzzle at holiday time. Be safe on the road. Take time to love your family. Do what you feel you can and no more. Remember the days when you were a parish pastor and drove hard through the month of December and then wondered where the wonder of the holidays went? You missed the wonder because you were too busy helping everybody else experience it. You are no longer a parish pastor, so slow down and enjoy it. If you’re a Type A personality, you may feel you just HAVE to do more of this or that. Baloney! Relax! To your holiday celebration, I say be blessed!

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