Since his recent appearance on Portland, Oregon radio station KKPZ’s podcast “Until We Meet Again,” hospice R.N. and author Derek J. Flores has helped spark a shift in how patients and their families view hospice care. In his book Seven Keys to a Peaceful Passing: A Hospice Nurse’s Step-by-Step Guide to Hospice, Flores lays out a patient-focused, step-by-step guide to help patients and their families navigate hard decisions while at the same time making the journey a peaceful, comfortable experience that maintains a patient’s dignity.
Flores joined the show’s host Elizabeth Fournier for a fantastic conversation about how he helps families navigate the stages of anxiety and grief that surround the end of life process. After serving so many families over the years, Flores provided volumes of insight into his personal experiences and how he thinks other hospice teams could benefit from some of his methods.
“The first thing you have to remember is that this is a difficult time, and you’re not going to have all your wits about you,” Flores says, addressing a question by Fournier on what families can expect to experience as their loved one enter the final chapter of their life. Flores pointed out that there are so many emotions swirling around a person’s head during this journey, one of the most important things to remember is to not be hard on yourself.
An important coping technique Flores employs with the family is an exploration of what their loved one was like before they became ill.
“You see their hearts start to heal as certain memories are brought up,” Flores says. He became inspired to write his most recent book after realizing how crucial bringing up certain memories can be.
Another important exercise for families to go through during hospice care is to make them aware of the various stages of grief encountered along the way and how to give them tools to process grief. Being practical and realistic is important, Flores says, and addressing their concerns while finding a balance between candidness and gentleness can be a delicate art.
“The most common question I’m asked by the family members is: ‘When is my loved one going to die?’” Flores says. “I try to give them a wide range of time, and talk to them about the specifics of what to look for: eating habits, breathing, and amount of time they are sleeping. These are the three main indicators as to when someone might pass.”
“It’s extremely important for hospice patients to make the most of the time they have left,” Flores says. “Many patients don’t think of this time as an opportunity to check things off their ‘bucket list,’ like traveling for instance. If it’s possible for them to exert the physical effort, then it should be an option strongly considered.”
Flores, who is eager to continue spreading the word about delivering extraordinary hospice care, says he is willing to travel anywhere there is an ear ready to listen, and is actively pursuing opportunities to do more interviews on television and in print publications.
Through powerful stories of past experiences with patients, and insights on the unique ways Flores delivers his particular and special brand of care, readers get a firsthand look into the real value of hospice and the tremendous, comforting effect it can have on a family.
“We often think of a hospice nurse delivering care to a patient, rather than experiencing it with them,” Flores says. “By coming alongside them and actively engaging in their lives, we see tremendous leaps in quality of life for the family and patient that can help bring a beautiful close to the final chapter of a treasured love one.”
Learn more about Flores, his work, and how to contact him for an interview, at his official website https://www.derekjflores.com/, or contact him using the information below.