Even though she battled kidney cancer on and off for 25 years, Tara Smith’s mother, Charlotte, was still feisty at 89, spending her days driving, dancing, and enjoying life. But in early 2021, Charlotte underwent a difficult surgery. When her condition continued to decline, doctors advised Tara and her family it was time to bring Charlotte home and recommended hospice care. Tara vividly remembers her mother’s only request – “don’t ever let me die in pain.”
“I knew instantly I wanted Samaritan to be our hospice of choice,” said Tara. “I had become familiar with their services through a work partnership and I’m glad I went with my gut – the process of bringing my mom home on hospice was absolutely seamless thanks to Samaritan.”
A member of the Samaritan care team met the family and Charlotte at her home within two hours of being discharged from the hospital and took the time to explain Samaritan’s resources, review medicine doses, and explain how to contact Samaritan’s after-hours nursing staff if Tara and her family had any questions.
A Samaritan nurse, Laurie, joined the family and spent time getting to know Charlotte as well as each family member to support them through the journey.
“Laurie came and instantly calmed all of our fears by reminding us we wanted to be sure my mother was comfortable,” said Tara. “She reassured all of us that we were doing a good job, and that was exactly what we needed to hear.” Laurie worked closely with Tara and her family to make sure Charlotte was 100% comfortable. “Laurie was even kind enough to reach out the morning after my mother peacefully passed saying mom was dancing up in heaven.”
Reflecting on the time Charlotte spent in Samaritan’s care, Tara feels the impact the Samaritan team had on both her mother and their entire family was lifechanging. “This process through Samaritan was a gift – it allowed all of us precious one-on-one time with my mom to show her how much we all loved her,” said Tara. “I remember my mom saying, ‘I love you so much and I always will,’ and that was the greatest gift hospice had given me.”
Knowing Charlotte was comfortable at the end of her life with Samaritan’s help meant the world to Tara and her family. “When I asked Mom if she was okay, she said she was comfortable, and that made me so relieved – we were fulfilling her wish of not letting her die in pain.”
As heart-wrenching as it was to lose someone she loved so dearly, Tara recommends everyone do their homework and truly understand the helpful services Samaritan offers. The benefits of comfort, support, and dignity that hospice care provides are vast, as the goal of hospice care is to provide care for the whole person, not just treat a disease. It also can help families understand and plan for the end of life, allowing time to resolve family and spiritual concerns and spend quality time on enjoyable pursuits. Patients and families considering hospice are encouraged to call Samaritan early to take advantage of as many benefits as possible.
“At the end, we asked for donations to Samaritan to honor my mother due to their level of care and making everyone feel at peace during the process,” said Tara. “I hope this will help inspire others to learn about hospice and connect with Samaritan.”