In March, Catawba Regional Hospice hosted the Unifour Hospice Volunteer Conference, an annual event that educates participants about new developments in end-of-life care and offers them practical advice for interacting with patients and families.
This year's conference took place at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Hickory and offered morning and afternoon sessions. The early session, entitled 'Meet Me Where I Am,' presented creative ways for people who interact with dementia patients to understand the reasons behind certain behaviors and to learn how to respond to those behaviors. The course's goal was to improve daily patient care through education, role-playing, and humor.
The instructor, Mary Ann Drummond, is a nurse with over 30 years of experience who is also CEO of Angel Tree Publishing. For the past 15 years, Drummond has been Vice President of Operations for Carillon Assisted Living, where she designs and implements Alzheimer's programming for 20 special care units in North Carolina. She has authored several works advocating quality of life for dementia patients.
The afternoon session, 'Insights on Cultural Sensitivity at End of Life,' taught participants how cultural differences affect care, especially in the context of advanced illness. It featured tips on recognizing our own biases, along with tools to gain more awareness of others' needs. Members of the Hmong, Latin American, and African-American communities, which are prominent in Unifour counties, were present to answer questions about how death and dying are regarded in their particular cultures.
The instructor, Marsha Lynn, is a certified hospice nurse and wound care specialist who has also been a clinical educator at Catawba Regional Hospice for more than 20 years. Lynn regularly teaches health care professionals at agencies and facilities in the local area and presents at regional and national conferences.
The Unifour Hospice Volunteer Conference draws volunteers from Hospice & Home Care of Alexander County, Burke Hospice & Palliative Care, Caldwell Hospice & Palliative Care, and Catawba Regional Hospice. Each of these organizations hosts the conference on a rotating basis.