2016 Caris Leadership Development Institute: Competent End-of-Life Consultants

A Caris Representative is an end-of-life consultant, a patient advocate and a liaison between the medical community, patients, families and the Caris clinical team. Caris Representatives from each of our 27 offices joined together in July to sharpen skills and further develop their knowledge of hospice to better serve local patients, families, the medical community and senior living providers with whom we’re privileged to work.

Caris Chief Medical Officer Donald Lighter, MD, discussed Difficult Conversations in a keynote presentation to the Caris Representatives. The difficulty, of course, pertains specifically to conversations about end-of-life care options for the patient and family. Dr. Lighter outlined the appropriate time to have these conversations from a clinical standpoint and spoke about using different approaches when patient perspective varies. He also explained how to provide comfort, ensure clarity and foster trust and assurance from patients and their families.

In discussing these different approaches, Chris Wolk, patient care manager from Caris Dickson, Tennessee, stated the main reason people do not elect the hospice benefit is because they do not want their loved one to give up. Chris explained, “We don’t want momma to give up. We want her to fight, but let’s give her something to fight that she can win.  She cannot win the fight against a terminal illness, but she can win the fight for the forgiveness. Forgiveness she may need to give or receive. The fight to live the remaining time with dignity and the chance to be with the ones she loves the most.”

Speaking as a long-time hospice aide but a relatively new Caris Representative, Darah Russell from Caris Athens, Tennessee, commented on how valuable this presentation was to her. “Coming from clinical care I was thankful to offer compassionate care to patients and families in this time of need.” stated Ms. Russell. “I desired to be a Caris Representative to educate my community about hospice care. There are many people who could use the benefits of our services, but don’t due to a lack of information. What I learned at the Leadership Development Institute will help me effectively and compassionately communicate the benefits of hospice and Caris.”

In addition to Dr. Lighter’s presentation, Caris Representatives examined the best ways to respond quickly and efficiently to referrals from the medical community to further ensure patients receive the full benefit of Caris services.


Dr. Donald Lighter, MD, discussing different approaches to necessary end-of-life conversations