What it’s like to be a hospice aide


Working in the hospice field can be challenging, but for all its challenges, there are even more rewards. It truly takes a special, strong and compassionate person to be able to care for someone during the last months, weeks and days of their lives, said Lora Canfield, who currently serves as a hospice aide at Encompass Health Home Health & Hospice in Fort Worth, Texas.

Canfield, who has been a hospice aide for 25 years, was previously working at a nursing home when a colleague recommended that she get into hospice. She soon found that the relationships formed sparked her passion for the field.

“Making patients smile and creating friendships with patients is definitely my favorite part of the job,” Canfield said.

A typical day for Canfield begins with her five patients in memory care. She then assists with getting them bathed and dressed, feeding them, changing bedding and preparing them for the day ahead. She also reports patient statuses for that day back to the nurses. All-in-all, Canfield spends about 45 minutes to an hour with each patient daily.

Canfield is also a certified preceptor through Encompass Health and enjoys showing the newcomers what it takes to be in hospice.

“I like to be able to show the new employees the little things it takes to make the patients smile,” she said.

A job that comes from the heart

Throughout her experience, Canfield acknowledges that this is a job that comes from the heart, and she is truly meant to be in this role. Some days are easy and some days are difficult.

“Sometimes it is very hard and I just have to go home and cry, but I have to let go and remind myself that the patients are happy,” Canfield said.

For those wanting to explore a career in hospice, Canfield suggests being prepared for anything and taking your time.

Like Lora Canfield, Jenifer Jones agrees that hospice is not for everyone, but once you discover that it is your calling, the positives begin to outweigh the negative. 

The saying “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” rings true for Jones, an Encompass Home Health & Hospice aide in Burleson, Texas, who has dedicated her life to serving others during their final days.

Jones, who started her career as a Certified Nursing Assistant, made the transition to hospice care after going through the process with a close family member. She saw the type of attention and care her family received during this difficult time, and she wanted to do the same for families in similar situations. Jones had a passion for serving others, and she realized that working in hospice would allow her to do just that.

“My favorite part of this job is that I can be a support system to the families and patients I care for,” Jones said.

Hospice care is not for the faint of heart and can be full of ups and downs, especially when you are required to stay strong during very difficult times. Her advice to those interested in hospice opportunities? “Make sure your heart is in it. This job requires patience and strength.”

Motivation is all in the family

Jones finds motivation in focusing on her patient’s family, as well as encouragement from her team, coworkers, and even facility staff. “Text messages from people I work with telling me I am doing a good job really motivates me to keep going,” Jones admits. In a field that requires so much strength, it is important for everyone involved to rely on each other.

Typically, Jones starts her day around 5 a.m., so she is readily available when her patients begin their morning routines. Once her patients are awake and ready to begin their day, she is usually tied up from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m assisting them with tasks like bathing, dressing and other daily activities. Jones typically cares for up to eight patients a day, but makes it a point to form relationships with her patients and their families to ensure everyone involved feels valued and supported.

Despite the trials and tribulations that may come with this line of work,  Jones remains inspired by the idea that she is impacting someone’s life in a positive way, especially during a difficult time, which is priceless.

Interested to learn more? 

To learn more about hospice career opportunities at Encompass Health, we invite you to stay in touch with us by joining our talent community so a member of our recruitment team can email you with more information, or sign up to receive job alerts.

To pursue a career with Encompass Health, you can search for open opportunities near you.