Healing Hands Care, Inc. is a leading provider of hospice care services in Los Angeles County. Their team works closely with the patient’s family and physician to meet the patient’s needs in the comfort of their own home, or in the residence of their choice. Healing Hands holds integrity of life to the highest standard and operate honestly and respectfully. Kristi Henry is the Director of Nursing at Healing Hands Care Hospice. She has spent her 25 year career taking care of patients and families, helping them preserve quality of life through a person’s last days. We interviewed her to learn more about her experience and dedication to the field.
What inspired or prompted you to go into the hospice industry?
The opportunity to support and advocate for the rights of terminally ill patients and their families to control their end of life medical decisions and remain at home for the remainder of their illness.
What is a typical day like for you at Healing Hands Care?
As Director of Nursing, I am responsible for the managing the daily clinical operations of the agency. This includes training and mentoring the clinical team, reviewing clinical documentation, ensuring regulatory compliance, acting as a liaison to physicians and community agencies and performing patient assessments as needed.
What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had with a hospice patient and/or the family?
Every experience is rewarding in its own way. The satisfaction of knowing you helped a patient and family through life’s most difficult journey and, perhaps in some way, made the experience easier and more dignified is the greatest reward.
Tell us about a happy time or funny experience you’ve had while working in hospice.
I think each time we are able to help a patient die naturally with peace, comfort and dignity in a loving environment is a beautiful experience. To have a family embrace you, to feel the love and complete trust they have for you, to have them say ‘thank you, I couldn’t have done this without you’, that is what makes everything we do worthwhile.
Do you have any regrets or experiences you would do differently with a patient or their family?
No. I have given each patient and family the very best I had to offer at the time.
How has working in hospice changed the way that you live your life?
Absolutely! Hospice has taught me the true meaning of living each day as if it were your last. It has taught that life is very fragile and missed opportunities may never come again. It has taught me that each of us are stronger and more courageous than we ever imagined we could be. Most of all it has taught me to embrace those I love a little more tightly, to take a little extra time and to strive each day to make memories for lifetime.
How has hospice changed in your time working in this industry?
Very much so! The healthcare industry as a whole has become so heavily over-regulated that it has made it very difficult for many agencies to stain in business. While some of this reform has had a positive impact on the quality and accountability of patient care, the majority, in my opinion, has weakened the infrastructure.
If you had a piece of advice to families looking into hospice, what would it be?
Do your homework!! Ask questions. Interview the hospice as if you were hiring an executive for a company. Never blindly accept a hospice agency just because the hospital or doctor, etc has referred you. You have the right to choose any agency you want. Not all hospices are the same and the quality of care your loved one receives depends upon the quality of your selection.