Nurse honors family caregivers

Friday Harbor | January 18, 2017
Caregivers need care too

Working in healthcare takes a toll on people—from doctors, nurses and others who do it for a living—to family members who shoulder some duties out of pure love.

It’s especially tough for those in the cancer center.

Because Shannon Harris, RN, OCN, program coordinator for oncology, often sees patient families’ sacrificially giving “with little rest or respite,” she wanted to honor them and lovingly remind them to care for themselves, as well. As one colleague noted, “It’s easy for family members to neglect their own needs in these times.”

In November (National Family Caregivers Month), Shannon worked collaboratively with other PeaceHealth Peace Island staff and two organizations on San Juan Island—The Family Resource Center and San Juan County Health and Community Services—to offer a program that recognized family caregivers who had been “tending to their loved ones day and night.”

What resulted was a precious time of encouragement and relief. Caregivers received various short- and long-term resources to draw on, including a gift mug (provided courtesy of the Peace Island Volunteers) with lavender lotion—a gentle reminder to take time for themselves.

Shannon’s work not only ministered to families of patients, but it also helped colleagues—giving staff members a much-needed space to heal from the loss of patients who had become like family.

Those who work with Shannon appreciate her quiet, powerful way of being present and of loving patients, families and caregivers as they work together side by side.

And that helps to lighten the load.