“My passion has always been hospice.”
Ray Caron, Hospice Nurse, RN, Cornerstone VNA and Hospice
In honor of Nurse Appreciation Month we are delighted to share an interview between Julie Weiss, Hospice Social Worker and Hospice Help Foundation volunteer, with Ray Caron, a hospice nurse at Cornerstone VNA, a nonprofit provider serving over 40 communities in NH and ME. Ray has been a nurse for nearly 20 years; for 18 of those years he has worked in palliative and hospice care.
HHF: What do you like best about being a hospice nurse?
RC: Everything. Taking care of the patient physically, mentally, and emotionally. Taking care of the whole family. I truly believe that taking care of a patient in their own element is what nursing really is. In a hospital they’re in your house. You wake them up at 2am. When you’re taking care of somebody in their own home, that’s when you realize what nursing is really all about.
How is hospice nursing different from other nursing?
All other nurses work to keep you alive, to alleviate a problem or manage a chronic disease. With hospice nursing, you’re helping someone manage and control the last stage of their life. There are just a few times in life when we’re truly vulnerable. My patient is allowing me, a complete and total stranger, to be part of their inner circle at one of these intimate times. To me that’s just absolutely amazing, to be part of somebody’s journey.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a hospice nurse?
Emotions. You get attached. We’re told you gotta keep your professional distance. If I keep my professional distance 100%, I don’t get to know that person in the bed. It can be as simple as knowing to put on Frank Sinatra because that’s what he and his wife listened to when they first danced together.
How would you describe your relationships with patients and families?
We partner with them, increase their quality of life and help them reach their goals. Some people will want to make a plan of care that’s so farfetched that they’re never going to do it. If you want to walk on Hampton Beach and you can‘t even get out of bed, that’s not necessarily going to happen. You can say, “Let’s dial that back first and make some smaller goals that you can reach.”
My patients know me as Ray the nurse, not Ray the hospice nurse. ‘Cause we’re going to joke and laugh. We’re going to have our crying times, but we’re going to be able to be with each other in a caring way.
Death is something we’re all meant to do. The human body knows how to shut down. We just have to learn to accept it. We’re not supposed to know God’s will. We just need to learn to accept our journey, and figure out how to live our best journey.