Hospice Aide, Vanessa Chavez, has a magical story to tell of the power of care.
“It is inspirational and encouraging. It truly takes very caring and patient people to work for hospice, I continuously see all those traits in all my coworkers.”
Tell us about yourself and why you chose to be a hospice aid.
My name is Vanessa Chavez, I’m a first generation college graduate from a loving family of 6, including myself. I have 3 other siblings. Upon graduating from high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in Nursing. In high school, I was interested in animals and science. I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I decided to change career paths. I started volunteering at a skilled nursing facility in the Davis area at age 19, and the Activities Director at the time decided she wanted to hire me for activities. Not long after, I earned my Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license. I would alternate between being an activities assistant and CNA, attending to the physical aspects and needs of a patient, and then to the social aspect of a patient – I had the best of both worlds! I worked mainly in Memory Care, so I have plenty of experience with patients who have dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term for various medical conditions that are mainly characterized by a loss of memory and cognitive function. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, so I did my best to engage them in suitable activities for whichever stage of the disease they were in. It was a great experience and it kept me on my toes. If there were ever any changes, I learned to quickly overcome and adapt. I chose to be a hospice aide because I thought it was time to embark on a new life adventure, and I have always believed in living a life of service to others. My ultimate goal is to be an RN. In my free time, I am a crisis text line counselor, a bird and plant mom, and I love to collect vinyl records.
What is your role at Yolo Hospice?
I am a Hospice Aide. I work closely with the patient to provide personal care and assistance. I report observations, changes, and needs to the rest of the hospice team, mainly the Registered Nurse Case Manager (RNCM.) I also interact and give support to the families of the patient. I am in a pilot program that Yolo Hospice has recently initiated, which is to keep a hospice aide in one facility for the whole shift. All my patients are at The Carlton Senior Living, so I get to spend a lot more time with them all while advocating for Yolo Hospice.
Please give us a glimpse into your daily regimen as a hospice aid.
Everyday is a little different, but a usual day consists of going into the Yolo Hospice office to listen to the daily report. I then look over my calendar for the day and make phone calls regarding patients I’m going to visit. I gather my supplies, and say “Have a great day!” to coworkers as I leave, and then I head to the facility. When I arrive, I check on all my patients, and then I perform the bed baths and/or showers I have for the day. Currently, there are no visitors allowed at most facilities, so everyday I make ZOOM or Facetime calls to help the patient stay in touch with their loved ones. I also read to patients, assist them in exercise, go outside into the garden, and overall have the privilege of getting to know them and keeping them company. After each visit, I do my documenting. I love the amount of time I get to spend with each patient.
Is there a special patient or story you’d like to share with us?
When I initially started as Norma’s hospice aide, she was mainly non-verbal. I have been with her for almost 2 months, and she’s much more chatty and she seems more happy overall. I try to encourage her to talk, so I make conversation any way I can. We read, watch movies, exercise, go outside to see the garden, and listen to music. Norma and I ZOOM with her daughter twice a week, and I think she has made great progress.
Has this experience changed you?
Yes, it is amazing that hospice work has already impacted me in such a short amount of time. It is inspirational and encouraging. It truly takes very caring and patient people to work for hospice. I continuously see all those traits in all my coworkers. I have never seen such teamwork before!
Can you share one piece of wisdom with us from this experience?
If you have the capacities and abilities to serve humankind, do it in any form you can. Kindness is powerful, and the world needs much more of it. If you are in healthcare, you are most likely there because it is gives you purpose to help others. There are many ways to do so, and it’s contagious to be good and do good, whether you’re volunteering, or just making one person smile – I believe the end goal is to achieve unity and connectedness of all.