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Appropriate etiquette for interacting with seriously ill

Rockinruby

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 27, 2013
Messages
2,740
Hi,

I am hoping that some of you may have some input for me. PS has such a wonderful group of people so I thought I would ask for some help. :dance:

DH & I are finally approved and ready to start volunteering with children's cancer care services. It has taken awhile to get everything ready. I still have to finish writing the final policies, but the important thing is we have our first visit scheduled. What I'm wondering is if anyone has any do's/don'ts on things to say/not say when visiting with someone who may have cancer or other serious medical condition?
Anything that you can think of from even a friend or family member standpoint would be helpful.

I hope to introduce my dog, explain what kind, age and other small facts first. However, I didn't want to ask the loaded question of how are you feeling, what kind of cancer or things that aren't my business. (I would never ask things like that in a normal setting anyway)
I really want to think of some carefully considered questions that won't offend.

-are you feeling up to visiting with our therapy dog today?
- do you like animals?
- can you tell us about your pets? (Does this make them miss them if they aren't able to see the pet right now?)

Any tips needed. Help! :wavey:
 

artdecogirl

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 27, 2009
Messages
1,141
Hey Rockinruby, What a great thing to do! I am a nurse and I care for people with serious injury and illness although not kids, but I will tell you in my experience most people love to talk about their fur babies even when they are desperately missing them or even those that have passed on. I think the questions you have are appropriate, the only thing I would say would be to not ask if they were up to a visit. People who are always sick sometimes get tired of being treated like they are sick if that makes sense. I would just introduce yourself and your fur baby and ask if they would like to visit with him/her for while or if they would like you to come back at another time. This is a awesome thing to do, kudos to you and your DH for going through the process, I would guess it will be the most heartbreaking and the most rewarding thing you will ever do. Would love for you to come back after you do it for a while to share in general terms of course some of your experiences with us. I feel as a society and a medical community we have not even begun to realize and utilize all the positive effects that can be found through this modality.
 

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Jun 8, 2008
Messages
34,124
Rockinruby, this is an awesome thing you and your dh are doing and I second what artdeco wrote about it being the most rewarding but heartbreaking thing you might ever do. Wishing you strength and courage and love and I know the children's whose lives you touch will give as much back to you as you give to them. Let them guide you and show you what they need and want. Children are amazing in that way. They are open and truthful and loving and there are no hidden agendas with kids.

Wishing you the best in this journey and my heart goes out to you and those children. (((HUGS))).
 

Rockinruby

Ideal_Rock
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Dec 27, 2013
Messages
2,740
artdecogirl|1468570606|4055681 said:
Hey Rockinruby, What a great thing to do! I am a nurse and I care for people with serious injury and illness although not kids, but I will tell you in my experience most people love to talk about their fur babies even when they are desperately missing them or even those that have passed on. I think the questions you have are appropriate, the only thing I would say would be to not ask if they were up to a visit. People who are always sick sometimes get tired of being treated like they are sick if that makes sense. I would just introduce yourself and your fur baby and ask if they would like to visit with him/her for while or if they would like you to come back at another time. This is a awesome thing to do, kudos to you and your DH for going through the process, I would guess it will be the most heartbreaking and the most rewarding thing you will ever do. Would love for you to come back after you do it for a while to share in general terms of course some of your experiences with us. I feel as a society and a medical community we have not even begun to realize and utilize all the positive effects that can be found through this modality.
Artdecogirl, thank you so much for your insight. The phrasing of your question is much better. The facility books gave us some stock questions, but I feel like some are loaded questions. I think just asking if they would like a visit or we can come back another time is the way to go. I do think the people who enjoys animals will find it very therapeutic. I'm also hoping to recruit 4-6 more teams so the kids can have regular visits with registered and insured therapy animals. I have volunteered for a number of years, but the work I've done with kids lately has been with a reading program. This will be completely different. I hope we can help enhance and better their experience in some small way. Thanks again for your input!
 

Rockinruby

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 27, 2013
Messages
2,740
missy|1468579846|4055690 said:
Rockinruby, this is an awesome thing you and your dh are doing and I second what artdeco wrote about it being the most rewarding but heartbreaking thing you might ever do. Wishing you strength and courage and love and I know the children's whose lives you touch will give as much back to you as you give to them. Let them guide you and show you what they need and want. Children are amazing in that way. They are open and truthful and loving and there are no hidden agendas with kids.

Wishing you the best in this journey and my heart goes out to you and those children. (((HUGS))).
Missy, you are absolutely the best! :appl: Your message reminded me that things will work out if I relax and let the kids guide me. I just feel a lot of pressure because I want it to go well so we can add more teams later. It would be amazing if the kids could have regular visits from therapy animals! Please send lots of dust so we do a good job!
 

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Jun 8, 2008
Messages
34,124
Rockinruby|1468599312|4055758 said:
missy|1468579846|4055690 said:
Rockinruby, this is an awesome thing you and your dh are doing and I second what artdeco wrote about it being the most rewarding but heartbreaking thing you might ever do. Wishing you strength and courage and love and I know the children's whose lives you touch will give as much back to you as you give to them. Let them guide you and show you what they need and want. Children are amazing in that way. They are open and truthful and loving and there are no hidden agendas with kids.

Wishing you the best in this journey and my heart goes out to you and those children. (((HUGS))).
Missy, you are absolutely the best! :appl: Your message reminded me that things will work out if I relax and let the kids guide me. I just feel a lot of pressure because I want it to go well so we can add more teams later. It would be amazing if the kids could have regular visits from therapy animals! Please send lots of dust so we do a good job!
I am and will continue doing so. Bucketloads and bucketloads of dust to you and the children. And big (((HUGS))). I know you will do an amazing job Rockinruby. I have no doubt!
 

Puppmom

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Jun 25, 2007
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3,160
Rockinruby, what a great thing to do! Congratulations! We had dreams of Hollis becoming a therapy dog but he just doesn't like people that much. :rolleyes: He has a few favorites and tolerates the rest.

No advice on what to say but I think most parents understand this is challenging and will be very forgiving and flexible. And it sounds like you're off to a great start! Please let us know how your first visit goes.
 

azstonie

Ideal_Rock
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What a wonderful thing to do :appl: :wavey: . No advice for you, you're a sensitive and polite person, you'll be great!
 

liaerfbv

Brilliant_Rock
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Sep 16, 2007
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1,258
In my opinion a very important thing is tone when talking to a sick person. So many people unconsciously adopt a sad careful tone, so I would try to keep your voice neutral and not pitying at all. I have so much respect for you doing this, I don't think I could handle the emotions honestly!
 

caf

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Nov 26, 2013
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827
Rockinruby - I did this some years back with one of my dogs at a local hospital for several years. We were trained to knock on the door, explain who we were, show our badge and ask if we might visit with them with our dog. I would always introduce myself and my dog Katie. And by that time - if invited in, the kids were already very interested in Katie. I would ask if she could come to the side of their bed or get on their bed, whatever they wanted. I would be close and hold onto Katie's leash but otherwise let the patients and Katie interact. And we would talk about Katie. I would normally only ask their names and the kids would be off and running with questions about Katie. I normally never asked kids, or adults, about their illness. Most times I could tell when they tired or Katie did - I wouldn't stay long and then say we had to be off.

FYI - my dog and all the dogs I knew of - would be exhausted after a 2 hour visit to rooms. The smells and the emotions would tire her out. She always was on her best behavior when in the hospital but as soon as we left she would need to rest.

Great thing you are doing. Rewarding. And exhausting. Take care of you too.
 

Rockinruby

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 27, 2013
Messages
2,740
Missy, thank you so much for all the dust! I'm sending you big hugs back for being so supportive! :appl: I truly do appreciate it!
Btw, Poppy is coming along great! I think she might have the right personality for therapy, but we won't know until she is 1 yr when she can test. She's starting two more classes now. One in agility and one in obedience. I've taught her to turn on a bubble machine for a trick too. She likes to try to catch the bubbles....silly puppy!

Puppmom,thanks for the congrats! It's been a long time in the making to get a pet program up and running again. I will definitely let everyone know how things progress. :dance: Btw, how is Hollis doing?

Azstonie, you are so wonderful! Thank you for your kind words! :wavey:

Liaerfbv, That's an excellent point. I'll put that in my notes. I'm making a little sheet of do/don't to serve as a reminder before each visit. It is hard to do some types of volunteer work, but hopefully helping others will greatly outweigh the difficulty. I've thought about it and decided to go back to try this type of volunteer work again. It will be very different from the elderly patients we've seen in the past though. Thanks for your help.

Caf, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Katie sounds like she did a lot of great work! :appl: I bet the kids loved hearing all about her. I'm glad you were able to spend quality time with her while helping others. I'm so happy to hear of your successful visiting experience. :clap: :clap: :clap:

Our group does require 2 hrs or less, but we've asked to start out with a few breaks. The staff is so supportive! I checked with them today and they are now going have staff available if we are sad and need to talk. This thread has helped me to think of a few things I wouldn't have otherwise. We may even try a trading card or something with the animal info on it. I am really happy the staff wants us to bring ideas to them on ways to make this a great program. Also, thanks for the reminder to take care of us too! :

Thanks to everyone for being so helpful and supportive! :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: :clap:
 
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