One COVID Hero: Companionship During Residents’ Final Moments

ASC Superheroes

Therapy Recruiter, Libby Price, doesn’t consider herself a hero, she just feels compelled to help; with a 17-year career at American Senior Communities, an Indiana long-term care provider, and Libby’s background in social work, that’s not surprising. What is remarkable is how Libby has filled a void that has been worsened, in part, by COVID restrictions. Libby Price volunteers to sit at the bedside of residents during their end-of-life journey, when they might otherwise pass away alone.

The reasons that one may face the end of their life alone are myriad and have increased with COVID. Some people no longer have family, some families live far away and during this pandemic, some families, already struggling with COVID, are unable to be present. Though an end of life situation is a circumstance where arrangements can be made for family to visit a loved one’s bedside, there are times when it’s simply not possible. Whatever the circumstance, it’s of the utmost importance to have someone mindfully present at the time of a resident’s passing.

Answering a call to volunteer in some way, Libby was offered this delicate assignment, one she approaches with reverence. Having been present for her own fathers passing as well as the deaths of several residents during her career, Libby has some experience and is sensitive to the needs of all those involved with a passing resident, including family and staff members.

Libby’s presence, sometimes for 24 hours at a stretch, gives staff members peace of mind, knowing that the vigil is attended and ongoing as they care for other residents and take necessary time away from the bedside themselves. According to Libby, “In long-term care, some of these relationships span years between staff and their residents, every day, sharing their lives. It can be very emotional; these staff members are pouring their hearts out for their residents.”

Some visits are very impactful, Libby recalls holding the phone to a resident’s ear, facilitating a conversation with a loved one, also aiding in a last FaceTime conversation with family who could not be present. Having Libby at the bedside, staff can reassure family, as they receive the news of a loved ones passing, that they were not alone in their final moments.

Asked what her thoughts are, at the end of the day, Libby says she thinks of who may need her next, she doesn’t want them to be alone. Maybe Libby doesn’t consider herself a hero, but in the five weeks since she has answered this call, she has made multiple visits, offering comfort and companionship to those who are actively dying and multiple families have gotten the reassurance that, at the time of their passing, their loved ones were not alone.

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