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Being there at the end of someone’s journey: A PSW’s story

Ramona Osman, Carefor PSW

Once I went in to see a client whose wife was overwhelmed because she was told her husband had only a few days to live. She was angry and sad. All her emotions were there. I said to her I was there not only to care for her husband, and that I was there to care for her as well.

Just approaching her with those words made her feel so relieved, because I explained to her that even though her husband wasn’t responding to us, he could still hear us. I learnt this from my palliative course that she can tell him how much she loves him and how much she appreciated having him in her life.

I gave her husband a sponge bath and shaved him, and the client’s wife even mentioned that her husband looked like himself again, that he was a person who always shaved and kept himself groomed. She got me his favorite t-shirt and with her permission I cut it down the back like a hospital gown so it was easier to put on.

After I was finished cleaning him up, she laid down in bed with him. He died the next day. When I went for the visit the entire family was there and couldn’t stop thanking me for what I did for their mom and dad in their dad’s last moments when they needed it the most.

This is the happiness and satisfaction I get when I feel like I made a difference. This has happened on more than one occasion. Making a difference for a grieving family is priceless. It’s different because that word palliative means having a short time to live or actively dying to some people. Though I have had clients who were diagnosed palliative and are still not actively dying. They have lived for 5-6 years.

It’s important for a PSW to have palliative training because when you have the title Palliative PSW it means we are equipped with the knowledge of how to carry about our tasks in assisting the client and the family for the loss they may have coming, with empathy, dignity, compassion and love.

I became a PSW 25 years ago because I’d always liked helping people. I started off as a Health Care Aide then bridged to PSW, coming to Carefor 12 years ago. Six years ago, I decided to do my palliative training at Algonquin College, which was graciously made possible for us at no charge by Carefor. It is very gratifying to have these completed courses under my belt. Today around one-third of my clients are palliative.

It gives me satisfaction, and I hope when I get older if I need a PSW I will have a Ramona to look after me. I strongly believe in what goes around comes around. If I am kind and nice, smiling to my clients, when I am there needing care myself, I will have a person caring for me with compassion and empathy.

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