On November 1st 2017, Delta Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau and ANA-RI collaborated in facilitating the Nation wide screening of the documentary Defining Hope.
This film was produced by Carolyn Jones who also created The American Nurse Project. Our organizations co-sponsored the film, shown at the Providence Place Theatre on November 1st to mark the beginning of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Across the country nurses and others came together to view the film for the first time on this date. We also asked 5 specialists in the area of hospice and palliative care to facilitate a discussion with attendees at the conclusion of the film. Over 100 nurses and others attended. Feedback was very positive. Walden University sponsored the awarding of 1.25 CE’s for attendance and completion of the post-evaluation tool.
Here is an excerpt from the director, Carolyn Jones about the film:
When I started working on The American Nurse Project, I asked nurses about the biggest problems they face in their work. Very often those interviews became conversations about the fact that we’re not dying very well in this country. The nurses convinced me that if we could just educate people to have conversations with loved ones and providers and think about choices, we could have some agency over our own end-of-life experience and make it better.
Our choices are complex—how will the body react to more treatment, radiation, a new drug, another surgery? These are questions nurses can help us answer.
Nurses see us holistically. Since medicine is sospecialized, sometimes it’s hard to understand how medical recommendations about a specific part of the body will affect the body overall. The process is also hard on our loved ones, who may be taking care of us at home or will be helping with medication and symptom management. Nurses can help guide us through all of this. And more than that – bringing palliative care nurses into the conversation sooner can help us make choices that will lead to what we want.
Debbie Lafond, a Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner featured in Defining Hope, tells us that there is a lot of misperception about palliative care, and she is so right. She reminds us that to palliate is to alleviate, to ease the pain and relieve the burden of an illness. When we get a cancer diagnosis, for example, bringing in a palliative care nurse soon after diagnosis would go a long way toward improving the entire journey of cancer treatment. As patients, we can learn to ask nurses for their opinions. We can ask for palliative care nurses to participate in tough conversations, and we can listen to their analysis of what we might be facing. If we do, we can make better choices. We often ask family members to make decisions that they are not equipped to make, at an emotionally wrought time. Nurses can help enormously in these moments, but we need to give them a voice and bring them in early.
When I started this project, I hoped to come up with a path, some sort of manual that would be relevant to everyone, that would show us how to get through the end of life better. It didn’t take long to realize that the path is incredibly individualized. Everyone has a different will to live, a different threshold for what they can endure, and different goals. As time went on, I realized that getting people to talk about the subject—normalizing this taboo topic through storytelling would be most helpful.
My biggest goal for Defining Hope is to offer a film that reminds us that our time here is limited, and we will all be faced with death. It’s a part of life. Knowing what makes life worth living for yourself and your loved ones will help enormously when the end of life is near.
Learn more at www.hope.film