Transitions LifeCare eases end of life care, grief

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – For 30 years, Mark Philbrick was a nurse, but a call from his dad not only changed his life, but his career.

His dad was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. So Philbrick and his three sons moved his father to hospice for three months.

Now, Mark is one of the directors at Transitions LifeCare.

But moving from a hospital to a hospice environment is more different than you think.

“In the hospital and other health care settings families are sometimes an inconvenience and that’s why there are visiting hours, there are no visiting hours in the hospice, families are with us 24 hours a day,” Philbrick said.

He has spent the past 10 years not only learning the ways and benefits of hospice, but also teaching others.

“The sense of people thinking that hospice is brink of death care but it’s really comprehensive end of life care. The challenge is getting people to understand death is not an incident, but a process,” Philbrick said.

And that process involves an entire team of people.

“When somebody comes on hospice they have a physician, but they also have a nurse, social worker, a spiritual care counselor, a CNA, a grief counselor, so the whole team works with the family,” Philbrick said.

Some members of that team are volunteers and they become the most important part of the process, as Philbrick learned first-hand.

“As a caregiver, volunteers come in, spend time with my dad, reading, watching movies and I could go out and clear my head and it was really an emotional lifesaver for me to have the volunteers,” Philbrick said.

Transitions employs more than 400 people but their volunteers number some 350 strong and range from pet volunteers, music volunteers and even veteran volunteers – all with the same mission.

“It’s really about helping people live fully until the end. It’s not as sad as most people think. It’s really seeing people rise to the challenge and love and support their loved ones on the end of life journey. Very rewarding,” Philbrick said.

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