by James Coburn – staff writer
Daphne Chapman, RN, wanted to help others when she was a young child. Her ambition manifested into a nursing career as an adult. Today she has settled into her niche as a clinical supervisor at Valir Hospice in Oklahoma City. She has a sister who also became a nurse.
A nursing school graduate of Oklahoma City Community College, Chapman has been a nurse for 20 years with experience in hospitals, assisted living and long-term care. She has worked in hospice care for eight of 15 years she has served as a hospice nurse.
Feeling part of a family keeps her grateful to Valir Hospice as a hospice nurse, she said. She recalls when an older couple gave her a framed photo of themselves. Small gestures to and from people make a difference.
“There are special things like that to remember them by,” Chapman said. “Getting to know them — they open up to you and do special things that’s small, but it touches your heart.”
Chapman also is enriched by comforting other staff members by assisting them during difficult times. Hearing about the difference hospice nurses make for the family gives her momentum.
“It lets us know that’s why we’re here and what we’re doing it for,” she said.
The Valir Hospice office in Oklahoma City employs about 20 nurses. Nurse aides are an important part of the team in creating a special bond with patients, she continued. They see the patients more than anybody by typically doing three visits a week.
The hospice team smooths out the jagged edges of life that would be more prevalent for patients and their families without the presence of hospice.
“I just think hospice is my calling and this is a good company to work for,” Chapman said. “I just enjoy patient care and getting to know families and helping somebody through the process of end of life.” (story continues below)
The longevity of some of her patients has surprised her. One of her patients with whom she had a close bond lived for two more years. Patients do not necessarily lose their sense of humor either.
“Some of them remain very positive. I just think that in their situation, I don’t know if I could be that way. I hope that I could,” she said.
But the purpose of hospice is not for patients to simply wait around and expire but having the best quality of life made possible in a palliative environment. Extra care in managing symptoms helps patients achieve their personal best in each moment.
Families are encouraged to ask questions at any time. The timeline of decline for every patient is different. Education helps families to recognize the normal shifts of decline a loved one experiences before passing.
“This is a difficult time for them, so it’s hard for them to retain all of this information,” Chapman said. “We have these books that we encourage them to read when the time comes. That helps a lot.”
A social worker, nurse aide, and chaplain join with the nursing staff in helping each other.
“That’s a big help. Families and the patient might be struggling with spiritual issues. We have the chaplain come in and they can increase their visits. That’s one of our specialties. It’s nice to have the team members that you can refer to and help with every aspect of what the patient is going through,” she explained.
One of her patients was an oncology nurse, a field similar to hospice nursing. She learned a lot about being a hospice nurse when bonding with her.
Being a hospice nurse has broadened Chapman’s perspective in life. She takes fewer things for granted.
“You learn to enjoy life a little bit better,” she said. So how does Chapman enjoy her life when she is not on duty? She spends time with her family. They like to travel and enjoy being outdoors, many of the things her patients have loved to do.
She encourages others to explore hospice. Valir Hospice takes care of its employees, Chapman said. And Valir offers extended care for its patients during the final 24 hours of life, Chapman said.
“We provide comfort and support to them and the family. So, I feel that’s very beneficial. Families really love that. It’s one of the most difficult times. Having that extra support, knowing there’s somebody from hospice to guide you and help you through that, I think is a big thing,” she said.
Valir Hospice also has a Valuable Wish program. A staff member will nominate a patient each month to do something special for. Recently, a patient who is bed-bound wanted to have hotdogs and cokes. “She got to get out and get pampered,” Chapman said.
There is a sign posted in the office of Valir Hospice.
“Hospice matters. The end of life deserves as much beauty, care, and respect as the beginning.”
For more information on Valir visit: https://www.valir.com/hospice-care