Unfortunately, many patients are going to end up dying alone in the hospital, either because they have outlived the rest of their family or because they are private people who don’t have any friends or family. I don’t know if you have heard of this but hospices across the country are providing a wonderful service called No One Dies Alone (NODA).
NODA services are provided by hospice programs that send volunteers into local hospitals to sit vigil with patients who are dying alone.
As much as nurses try very hard to be present with the dying, they have too many patients to care for and can’t stay just in one room. So NODA volunteers sit in shifts and stay with and comfort the person as he or she dies. Of course, these volunteers are highly trained and work cooperatively with the doctors and nurses. This program was founded by Sandra Clarke, an ICU nurse at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Oregon.
I think it would be wonderful if a similar service was provided for skilled nursing facilities and assisted livings. Medical hospices do an amazing job of caring for the needs of the dying in care communities, but they can’t stay with the patient 24/7. This leaves many of our seniors dying alone.
Maybe you would like to develop a program like this in the hospitals and facilities in your community or maybe you already have. If so, we’d love to hear about it. Please share your comments with us below.
Starting your own NODA program:
Viki Kind is a clinical bioethicist, educator and hospice volunteer. Her award winning book, “The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making: Making Choices for Those Who Can't,” guides families and professionals through the difficult process of making decisions for those who have lost capacity.