Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Community of Faith

While Saint Therese strives to support seniors and their families to age well and live a vibrant life, there is a unique community which offers the opportunity for families to just be present with their loved ones as they journey through end-of-life.

“If we can help a mother have a baby, we can help a grandfather die well,” said Nolay Freeman, Nurse Manager at Saint Therese at St. Odilia. “End-of-life is not something to fear, it is something to honor with your loved one.”

The team at the Saint Therese at St. Odilia community has an uncommon perspective on death. While some individuals view death as the end, staff at St. Odilia see death and dying as an opportunity to give individuals and their families the time and space for reflection, to remember and celebrate the past, while considering the future.
Each day, staff provide exceptional physical, emotional and spiritual care to individuals and their families. Yes, nurses administer medication, bathe and dress individuals, but they also pray together, share a meal together and experience precious moments of understanding together.

“We are here to eliminate the fear that is associated with death,” said Nolay. “We are here to listen, to offer support and to say ‘it’s okay’.”
Just as important, the team at St. Odilia provides a peaceful environment for families to simply enjoy their loved one, often for the last time.

“We are here to allow families to just be,” said Nolay. “We ask them to let us take care of their loved one and make them comfortable so they can cherish the moments that are remaining.”
However watching someone experience end-of-life can be a heart-wrenching trial. Often families become emotionally and physically exhausted by the journey. For the staff at St. Odilia, this is where they shine and where their true talents are shown.

Nolay recalled a story of a man whose wife was dying of breast cancer. After an exceptionally challenging moment the man went outside the house to sit in the garden. Soon after Nolay followed him outside and without saying a word, sat next to him and held his hand. After a period of time, Nolay broke the silence and asked “how did you meet her?”
The man sighed, smiled and began talking. The two talked for over an hour as the man was able to share stories of a time when cancer was not part of the conversation.

“Part of what we do is just listen,” said Nolay. “We have a unique and amazing team at St. Odilia. Their willingness to help and commitment to what they do is inspiring, and I think it shows in the way they care for our guests.”

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