Kim Morgan is a therapeutic recreationist in the Palliative Care Program at St Peter’s Hospital. She has worked at HHS for 27 years.
Favourite colour: turquoise/ books: Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow/ vacation spot: Arizona, Paris, Belgium/ music: depends on my mood/ animal: my dog Farley, a cross between a Wire Haired Terrier and a Bassett Hound called a Petite Griffon/ food: seafood/ holiday: all of them
What do you love most about your job?
My job allows me to assist people with limitations and give them the opportunity to participate fully in leisure activities that bring them joy and can help maintain or improve their physical, mental and social well-being. I love the challenge of finding ways to adapt an activity or motivate a person so they feel good about what they are doing and are able to make the most of their abilities. Seeing someone truly enjoy doing an adapted activity is very rewarding.
“I also know the pure joy these experiences can bring to patients who are nearing the end of their lives.”
Describe one of your most challenging days at work.
One of the greatest challenges of my work is bridging the gap between what a patient might want to do or be able to do and what their family members are comfortable with.
At St. Peter’s, patients can participate in a number of activities and outings. These allow individuals opportunities in the hospital setting that most people aren’t aware of. The activities can be adapted to meet an individual’s needs and safety. These are opportunities for normalcy, opportunities to enjoy the day and not think about their health condition, opportunities for some quality of life to look forward to. This can sometimes be scary for the patient’s family because their loved one is ill and they want to protect them.
A few times, a patient has wanted to take part in an activity like fishing or a stroll along the beach at Hutches—things they truly love—and the patient’s family doesn’t think it’s a good idea. I understand the fear the family is dealing with because having a sick loved can come with a lot of stress. But I also know the pure joy these experiences can bring to patients who are nearing the end of their lives. They are memories that bring joy.
On a few occasions, a patient has decided against an outing or activity in this type of situation. I often think about what it would have meant for them to go fishing or to stroll on the beach one last time. It’s challenging because families should be included in these decisions and you want them to feel comfortable, but you also know what a difference special outings or activities can make when someone is in palliative care.
What is one thing you wish patients/colleagues knew about you?
I coach para athletes, I love photography and have been challenging myself by taking oil painting classes. I’m also rehearsing with a community group who will be performing at Dusk Dances at Bayfront Park. It’s amazing to see what you can accomplish when you get out of your comfort zone!
What do you wish you had more time for at work?
Like everyone, our workload at times can drive us crazy. 60 patients and one of me. I have to come to terms that I can only do the best I can to meet my patients needs. I simply can’t be with all 60 but one at a time!
What do you do after work to unwind?
I like to come home and walk my dog, have a glass of wine and get ready to go volunteer, paint, or just take my camera for a walk in our beautiful Hamilton green spaces and trails. That’s what rejuvenates me.
When you tell people what you do, how do they usually react?
Most people sigh and say they feel this must be a very difficult job working with people at end of life. My reply is the opposite. I feel very blessed that people will let me into their lives and share their stories with me. Helping people have fun and enjoy each day as best they can is very rewarding!