“End-of-Life Parables” YouTube Channel Launched


This YouTube channel is devoted to sharing end-of-life (EOL) concepts with laymen and medical professionals alike. Existential concepts like death and dying are often hard to understand and even harder to explain. As a hospice nurse educator and speaker, I’ve found that object lessons are helpful in representing the hard concepts in hospice and palliative care. This series of videos is called End-of-Life Parables. I pray that they may be helpful both to patients and families facing death and to health care professionals caring for them.

*More videos coming soon.

“End-of-Life Parables” Coming to YouTube Soon!

I’m excited to announce that Marsha Farrell Care Consulting has a new YouTube Channel entitled “End-of-Life Parables.”

This channel is devoted to sharing end-of-life (EOL) concepts with laymen and medical professionals alike. Existential concepts like death and dying are often hard to understand and even harder to explain. As a hospice nurse educator and speaker, I’ve found that object lessons are helpful in representing the hard concepts in hospice and palliative care. This series of videos is called End-of-Life Parables. I pray that they may be helpful both to patients and families facing death and to health care professionals caring for them.

The first three videos were filmed last month and will soon be released:

Parable #1: The Glove

Parable #2 Fuel For My Car

Parable #3 Baby Food

Stay tuned. Will love to have your feedback.

Marsha Farrell Care Consulting, LLC: A Proud Host of the Being Mortal Campaign in 2016

Being Mortal Awareness Campaign is Changing Lives Across the US

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 — Through a national campaign that engages audiences through film and discussion, more than 40,000 people across all 50 states and the District of Columbia are taking steps to do something most adults avoid until it’s too late: discuss the kind of care they want when faced with serious illness and death.

The Being Mortal project began in February 2016 and to date, more than 650 organizations have partnered to engage their local communities in 771 Being Mortal events. Preliminary outcomes based on participant surveys indicate that 96 percent of audience members for the first time will decide on the person they want to make their healthcare decisions if they are unable, think about their end-of-life care preferences, and communicate those wishes to a loved one.

Of medical and healthcare professionals in the Being Mortal audiences, 100 percent report that the event will help them talk with their patients about matters related to advance care planning and end-of-life care. Perhaps more importantly, close to 90 percent of these professionals say that they are now more likely to talk with patients about care options and preferences earlier in the course of serious illness or the aging process.

The events include a screening of the PBS FRONTLINE film, Being Mortal, followed by a guided and reflective audience discussion that ends with participants understanding the concrete steps they can take to start having conversations with their loved ones and healthcare professionals. The Emmy-nominated film is based on the best-selling book of the same name by Atul Gawande, MD.

Ninety percent of Americans know they should have conversations about end-of-life care, yet only 30 percent have done so. Largely as a result this communication vacuum, 70 percent of those living in the U.S. die in hospitals despite an equal percentage saying they want to die at home.  The Being Mortal project is changing those numbers by encouraging conversation and action.

“While written advance care directives (ACDs) are important, the nuances of end-of-life care can’t be captured in a checklist,” said Julie Berrey, executive director of the John and Wauna Harman Foundation, which is funding the project. “Discussing deeply-held personal values and what matters most at the end of life before a serious illness occurs helps make shared decision-making easier for patients and families when a loved one faces a severe illness, especially in the absence of formal ACDs or when a patient can no longer participate in the discussion.”

Coordinated through Hospice Foundation of America (HFA), the project has exceeded expectations, which led to a three-month extension of the project through March 31, 2017.

“The overwhelming success of this project highlights the demand for education on the importance of having these conversations,” said Amy Tucci, HFA’s CEO.  “Ensuring quality end-of-life care is HFA’s mission so we think about this topic every day, but most people don’t think about it until they’re faced with serious illness. This campaign is helping people consider not only their own end-of-life care, but also care for their loved ones. I’m grateful to the Harman Foundation and all the wonderful organizations that continue to join us in this campaign to provide Americans with information they need to have their wishes carried out when it matters most.”

For more information contact Cindy Bramble, cbramble@hospicefoundation.org or Amy Tucci, atucci@hospicefoundation.org or 1-800-854-3402. [MORE]

About the John and Wauna Harman Foundation
The John and Wauna Harman Foundation (Harman Foundation) is a private family foundation rooted in its donors’ humble beginnings. Thus, the Harman Foundation values humility, compassion, education, and a concern for the most vulnerable in our society. Its mission is to improve end-of-life care in America by encouraging all Americans to have meaningful conversations with family and loved ones about their end-of-life care wishes before serious illness occurs, thereby improving quality of life as death is near.

About HFA 
Hospice Foundation of America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. HFA meets its mission by providing programs for professional development, public education and information; funding research, producing publications, and by providing information on issues related to hospice and end-of-life care. Our programs for healthcare professionals are designed to improve care of those with terminal illness and those experiencing the process of grief, and are offered on a national basis. Our programs for the public are designed to assist individual consumers of health care who are coping with issues of caregiving, terminal illness, and grief.


Post courtesy of Hospice Foundation of America.

Caregiver Stress During the Holidays

I was privileged to speak at Marshall Cancer Care Center’s L.I.F.E. cancer support group meeting this week. The presentation was “This Little Light of Mine – Avoiding Caregiver Stress During the Holidays.”

Caregivers & patients often find themselves in demanding circumstances dealing with a disease and the medical treatments for managing the disease. When holidays come along, the caregiver may find him/herself feeling extra stressed with added holiday expectations and jobs. Soon the “most wonderful time of the year” becomes the most demanding time of the year. The ongoing and ever increasing stressors can sap the last ounce of energy from the caregiver and lead to burnout.

The L.I.F.E group’s discussions included tips for de-stressing during the holidays and focusing on what’s most important to the caregiver and care-recipient. Participants were given a list of Christmas jobs and encouraged to prioritize which activities to keep this year and which activities to let go.

Are the thoughts of Christmas causing stress for you and your caregivers? Call me today and book “This Little Light of Mine – Avoiding Caregiver Stress During the Holidays”.





HOPE in HOSPICE: Oxygen to Our Souls

How does a hospice patient maintain Hope (an essential element) and LIVE while their physical body is dying? Dictionary.com defines hope as: “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” Avoiding death and keeping the physical body alive is not to “be had” for a dying patient. Death comes and is inevitable.  Thankfully, humans are more than physical beings with organ systems. We are spiritual, social and emotional beings as well. The author C.S. Lewis once said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” I like that quote.


The word oxygen isn’t an elusive word like hope. Science textbooks teach that oxygen is a gas essential for all living things. It is an element (#8) on the periodic table. These are scientific facts. Yet, there is a level of mystery to oxygen. I cannot see this gas that I breathe into my lungs every 3 to 4 seconds. (Most of the time, I don’t even think about breathing.) I breathe in…  I breathe out. Breathe in… breathe out. Though I can’t see oxygen, I’m undeniably aware of when I lose it and can’t breathe.


Hope, like oxygen, is essential for life, but you will not find it on a scientific chart like the periodic table. Hope is one of those esoteric words like love and faith. Though it’s hard for me to define Hope, I know what it feels like to have it. I also know what it feels like to lose it.

Perhaps the answer to the above question, “How does a hospice patient maintain hope and live … while /dying?” lies in “reframing” HOPE and focusing on the spiritual, social and emotional parts of our selves. Perhaps the hospice team can best help their patients maintain Hope by helping them conceive new “wants” that can be had.

My patient Elsie showed me how to reframe HOPE while dying in hospice care. Elsie was the matriarch of a large Catholic family. Family and God were central in her life. Unfortunately, Elsie was dying from adrenal cell cancer and ESRF (end-stage renal failure) and was no longer able to consistently make three trips/week to the dialysis center. Thanksgiving was coming and Elsie and her husband were talking about the upcoming family get together at one of her sons’ homes. All of the children, in-laws and grandchildren would be there. A few days before Thanksgiving Elsie announced to me that she had decided not to attend the family holiday dinner. Instead, she planned to spend the morning of Thanksgiving Day with her granddaughters who would all be home from various colleges. Elsie decided that she would spend Thanksgiving morning sharing her holiday recipes with her granddaughters and supervising the cooking in her kitchen. She realized that her energy was limited. She could either share family traditions with the next generation OR she could attend the dinner later that evening.

Elsie “reframed” her HOPE that Thanksgiving. She made memories with her grandchildren and passed on a bit of her legacy.  Elsie found oxygen for her soul that Thanksgiving morning in her kitchen. She breathed in HOPE deeply.

HOPE Haiku


Oxygen for one’s own soul.

Breathe in deep fresh HOPE.

By-Marsha Farrell RN

(written for Haiku Exhibition at Hospice UK Conference 10/20/2016)


Alabama hospice and palliative care practitioners met earlier this month at the 32nd Annual AHPCO Conference at the Perdido Beach Resort, Oct. 5th-7th. Here are the results from the words written on painted corks at the Marsha Farrell Care Consulting booth.

  • HOPE = 4x
  • COMFORT = 3x
  • CARE = 3x
  • LISTENING = 3x
  • REWARDING = 3x
  • A BLESSING = 2x


What word would you have chosen?