• A Heart for Service – Hospice Chaplain April Scott

    August 7, 2019 | Blog
  • Central Indiana Hospice Chaplain Shares Her Story

    April Scott, Paradigm Hospice Chaplain

    April Scott, Paradigm Hospice Chaplain

    “What do you do all day?” asks one of Paradigm Health’s hospice patients to Chaplain April Scott. “I visit with my friends all day,” replies Scott. The patient (friend) smiles and responds: “That sounds like a very nice job.”  

    As one of Paradigm Health’s chaplains serving a large area of Central Indiana, Scott explains that for her, it is not a job but a calling. A calling to ministry that she came to a bit later in life than most. The journey of her own personal loss put her heart on a path to a career change and a commitment to a life of care and service to others.  

    “I worked in the finance industry and marketplace for over 20 years,” shares Scott. “But I lost my son at age 16 to cancer and it was through the chaplains of my own church that came to support me and to help me remember my faith during this time of grief that made me re-examine what I really wanted to accomplish in life. I knew at that moment I wanted to pursue becoming a chaplain.” 

    Scott trained at Indianapolis’s Christian Theological Seminary and completed a residency at IU Methodist Hospital. During the last two weeks of her residency, like all others completing their internships, Scott began to apply for positions to be chaplains serving in different communities. Even though her residency experience had been in a hospital setting, an interview with the leadership team at Paradigm Health sparked a real interest and passion for the hospice setting. The rest, as they say, is history. 

     

    Will you care for others as a business priority?

    Impressed by the work culture and family atmosphere at Paradigm Health, she completed her training and residency and began work at Paradigm in October 2017. “One of the questions I asked during my interview was whether or not the Paradigm Health hospice team and leadership was committed to caring for patients long-term,” Scott shares. She didn’t want a work environment that cared more about the bottom line than it did about service to and care for their patients. 

    “Paradigm really cares 100 percent about the people they are serving, and they encourage and support our freedom to care for our patients — my friends — without a lot of stress,” says Scott. “They are open and flexible and allow us the time needed to be with each patient which leads to an excellent level of service and care. For me, that is important. I’m an ‘all in’ type of person from a professional standpoint. Taking care of others and their spiritual needs is a priority.”  

     

    Caring for your loved one now.

    And, spirituality is unique to all of the friends Scott visits with each day. Her philosophy is to meet each person wherever they are to support that person to remember their own faith no matter what that may be. Knowing that all of us are changing every day, she focuses on who the person is now. “Each person I visit is new to me.” 

    Scott shares that it can be distressing for a family as well as they try to understand this “new” version of a loved one. Sometimes just being present and observing a patient in the here and now can actually lead to accessing a memory from the past that will open up a patient and create an opening for engagement and connection.  

    “I had visited with a woman several times and she was basically nonverbal. I was about to leave one day when the women said ‘Steak and Shake’ and I looked over and saw a Steak and Shake bag. The next time I visited with the woman, I brought her a strawberry shake from Steak and Shake. She immediately perked up, drank the shake and began to have conversation with me,” shares Scott. “It was if a light was turned on and that opened up a whole level of conversation for us.” 

    Scott says that after sharing this with the woman’s son, he confided in her that his mother had gone every Friday after a long week of work and gotten a shake at Steak and Shake as a treat. It was Scott’s observant nature and focus on her patient’s cues that allowed for an old memory to aid in unlocking something that was a very big part of the patient’s past. 

     

    The journey is always unique.

    Whether it is a hymn, a piece of scripture or a prayer, the holding of a hand or a sympathetic ear, or a memory-evoking delicious strawberry shake, Scott takes pride in knowing her patients/friends and plans each visit tailored to meet the needs of each individual and where they are on their hospice journey — going above and beyond to make sure they are not alone but are spiritually supported and cared for along the way.  

    “I often equate these personal journeys to a long train ride. I’m on a train car with a person for just a season and then the train stops and lets them off and I get on another car,” shares Scott. “I may cry or laugh with each of them, but in my belief system the body may die but the spirit lives on. I will meet and hold the hand as chaplain of many passengers as they travel to their life destination and I know that one day, someone will be on that train with me.” 

     

    For Scott, who also serves as the Paradigm Health staff chaplain, being chosen by God to be able to walk these journeys and to hear the stories of a person’s life is both a privilege and an honor. “When I go home, I do try to separate work from my home life and immerse myself in a good book or time with family,” Scott says. “But I still pray for my work family, my patients and friends and my own family. I’ve got a heart for service and a true passion for caring for others. And that never leaves me.”