In a postscript, in the previous entry, I happened to mention my personal history of training for hospice work as a counselor. At that time, in the 1970's, the ideal hospice team included, as I recall, a doctor, a nurse, a social worker, a chaplain, a counselor, and volunteers. I sat on a board in Tallahassee, Florida, where I went to college at FSU, which was charged with establishing the first hospice in that city. This group was convened at a church, at the behest of the female minister. Even at this time, I had studied Eastern philosophy for eight or nine years; and I was teaching a non-credit course in Death and Dying. I brought a near-death experiencer to one of the classes. So I represented the paranormal contingent, you might say. I was also the idealist, the purist; but the Home Healthcare representatives won the day, over my ignored protests (i.e., even at a church). I could clearly see that if they gained control of the operation, they would water down the pure hospice philosophy, since money was involved. They, meanwhile, could clearly see that the pure Hospice ideal, if implemented, was going to cost them a lot of business. They had to subsume hospice care into their own services, or perish. They, presumably, had the connections, and they won. "Hospice," as we know it today, is run as part of the Home Healthcare industry. I haven't looked into this deeply--this is as I understand it. I graduated in 1982, when President Reagan severely cut the federal social services budget, and I was unable to get a job in my field. Admittedly, I was too naive in my idealism--insurance did not cover hospice care at this time, something which I hadn't bothered to check on (and which, absurdly, none of my advisors thought to mention*). Thus, there were no jobs when I graduated.
I did, actually, have one interview with a hospice connected to a hospital--this was in Jacksonville, Florida, as I recall. I was interviewed, as I remember it, by two nurses. I had many questions for them, as regards how faithfully they were implementing the pure Hospice model. In particular, I wanted to know whether they followed through with patients who were sent home to die. I was told one might do it on the sly, so long as it wasn't officially known, but in general they didn't do that.
Then they had some questions for me. They told me they had just gotten a very nice gym put in, where they could work out during their lunch; and they also (as I remember it--this was a long time ago) wanted to know whether I drank, as in, whether I also drank.
At some point, the counselor position was taken out of the hospice team. Some sage figured out they could save a salary, and after all, both the social worker and the chaplain had counseling training.
Yes, and no. A few savvy social workers used to take the hands-on training classes in my counseling department at FSU. They knew we were getting much better training. But they had been very active in the legislature, such that legally, one had to have a social work degree to work in that field not long after I graduated.
Social workers are trained to locate and arrange community resources. Counseling is a side-line with them. And as for chaplains...these people, by definition, if they embrace the teachings of traditional Christianity, have the facts of the afterlife all garbled. They don't know what they're talking about--and what they do talk about is scary! They believe that a supremely loving God will consign some people--on a widely-disputed set of criteria-- to eternal damnation and suffering.
I wouldn't want such a counselor within 10 miles of a patient, unless they kept such ideas to themselves.
And that is all I really have to say about that. Except that it is the ignorance and greed of our Society which has reached into the Hospice movement, as it was transplanted from England, and conveniently removed the Counselor from the team. It is that same ignorance which marginalized my voice on that board, in Tallahassee, in favor of commercial interests. And it is that same ignorance which keeps me poor and marginalized, today. Were it not for that ignorance, I would probably be a PhD. psychologist with a reputation and several best-selling books to my name--all before I came out with my past-life identification as Mathew Franklin Whittier in the 19th century. Instead of a nobody telling you that in that past life, I co-authored "A Christmas Carol" and authored "The Raven," I would be a well-known, well-established psychologist telling you that.
So it is the materialistic ignorance and commercial greed of Society which drives these things behind the scenes. For the matter of that, it was the greed and ignorance of individuals and Society which permitted Dickens and Poe to plagiarize those respective works, and be believed about it (because both claims are absurd for those two individuals, for anyone with discernment). In other words, Society gets what it deserves as its official reality. And I am not part of the team.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*This was the first year of a new Counseling program at FSU, and in order to launch it, they desperately needed enough warm bodies. Half-way through the program, one of the professors stood at the head of the class and solemnly admitted to us, "You know, you won't be able to get a job with this degree." You could have heard a pin drop.
Music opening this page: "Awaken," by Eric Johnson, from the album "Up Close"