When 84-year-old Shirley was admitted into hospice care, her sister-in-law Maureen thought she knew what to expect. Maureen had spent time with other family members in hospice before their deaths, but this experience was extraordinary.
Shortly before midnight, BrightStar Care of Lake Forest / Irvine hospice nurse Adoria walked into Shirley’s room for an eight-hour shift. “If you could special order someone to come and take care of your loved one in the last hours of their life, Adoria would be that person to make (that time) extra special,” says Maureen.
Shirley passed away the next morning, just minutes after Adoria said her goodbyes to the family. Maureen says it was a five-star sendoff. “I know hospice caregivers are wonderful people, and most of them feel like it’s a calling. That was never more evident than with Adoria….We hit the jackpot,” she recalls.
In the still of the night
Knowing Shirley’s life was drawing to a close, Adoria hoped she could bring some comfort to Shirley and her family. “The family suffers so much—everything hurts,” Adoria explains.
Adoria gently dressed Shirley, brushed her teeth, washed her hair, massaged her swollen arm and leg, and put thick socks on her cold feet. She dressed her in a fancy nightgown and added a touch of leopard print, which Shirley had loved in her life. “It’s the littlest things that very often make the biggest difference,” Adoria explains.
“She seemed to divine everything that needed to be done and very sweetly went about doing it,” says Maureen.
All the while, Adoria learned about Shirley’s life. Adoria makes a point of asking patients and families about their favorite recipes, a technique she learned early in her career. Not only has this question garnered Adoria a stockpile of tried-and-true recipes, it helps family members engage in therapeutic conversation.
“It brings you thoughtfully to that joyful place of tradition and family,” Adoria explains. “The evening went from deep sorrow to celebrating together this beautiful lady’s life,” she adds. Maureen and Shirley’s daughters shared photos and memories with Adoria, and Adoria encouraged them to participate in caring for Shirley.
Shirley spent her life “doing” for everyone else, Maureen explains. “To have someone extraordinary like Adoria usher her from this life to the next could not have been more perfect,” Maureen says.
Thoughtful actions, lasting impact
Adoria began her career with BrightStar Care twelve years ago as a caregiver. After two years of excellent work, the franchise owner encouraged Adoria to apply to nursing school. The same woman helped arrange Adoria’s schedule so she could keep working and attend school.
“I wouldn’t be a nurse without BrightStar Care,” Adoria says. It’s a career she loves, and she feels honored to have tended to Shirley and her family that night. She adds, “(It’s) a beautiful thing to know that, as a nurse, you accomplished the goal of loving a family and helping them through this really difficult time.”
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Learn more about end-of-life care or contact a location near you for a free in-home assessment with a BrightStar Care nurse.