Caring Circle registered nurse, Carol Jakubs, RN, has been providing compassionate care to the residents of southwest Michigan for over 36 years
Have you experienced hospice care firsthand?
In 1981 my mother was dying of cancer. She was very restricted by machines and uncomfortable being in the hospital. I knew there was a better way. Just a few months later, a Berrien county group began a plan to pilot a hospice program in southwest Michigan. I ran to be involved!
How did you become involved in hospice care?
I learned two fellow nurses, Jane Gast and Carol Starks, had a friend who was dying and wished to remain at home rather than die in a hospital. These ladies researched, planned, and organized a better way to provide care and support to patients and their families during end-of-life care. After learning more about the volunteer organization and its mission, I knew this was my calling. I attended the second volunteer training class. Through this training I became one of two volunteer nurses working alongside Jane and Carol. I also worked closely with volunteer Medical Director, Kathleen Andries, MD, who currently works as the Associate Medical Director at Hospice at Home.
What drew you to this position?
I believe that everyone should have compassionate care during their life and the days leading up to death. As a nurse, I knew I could provide compassionate medical care. As someone who experienced the death of a loved one, I knew I could also provide emotional support during a difficult time.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I enjoy speaking with patients, learning what is most important to them, and how I can best support them. I have a keen sense of what our patients and families need – I talk with them to make certain we are meeting their needs.
What words of advice would you give someone who is struggling with the decision of beginning hospice care?
I would tell patients and families who are walking a journey of serious illness that they do not need to be alone or confused. Our hospice team can help. Hospice care is there to make life easier for everyone in the family, and help you live the best quality of life possible.
What one memory or moment during your career stands out to you?
Sadie was my first hospice patient and my first hospice death experience. She had been diagnosed with cancer and wanted to be at home with her family. Her daughter had called me to check on her mother. When I arrived it was apparent that she was near death. The family gathered beside her bed and I took a place on the floor in the hallway, staying close, but allowing the family to be near Sadie. Together we waited. Sadie had a peaceful death with her daughter by her side, holding her hand and sharing that moment. It was emotional, but beautiful. I knew my presence was appreciated and I felt such a sense of pride in helping this family through their journey. I continued to see the patient’s daughter for bereavement support. I will never forget this family.
What are your hopes for hospice care in the future?
I would like to see patients and families receive care for more than just the days leading up to end-of-life. Hospice care provides a special service unlike any other. We are a team looking to support each patient and family with comfort and care that may not be offered at a hospital. We can provide help for a much longer period of time – making the time they have left beautiful, memorable, and as comfortable as possible.
What would you tell someone considering volunteer work?
I would tell those who might want to work in hospice that it is not only rewarding, but gives you real purpose in life. Helping patients and their families is my life work and I am so proud to be able to provide this service in our community.