2012 Nominees Section

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Denise Carson

Denise Carson

Position: Blog Author & Community Mission

Organization: Hospice Care of the West


Why should this person be nominated? (What makes nominee unique; why should they be selected the winner of this category?
I would like to nominate Denise Carson, a very special author, journalist and advocate, for the Senior Care Hero Awards / Hero at Large category for changing the public conversation about hospice from dying to celebrating life.

Denise embodies the power of one to transform the lives of hospice patients and their families with a unique combination of compassion, personal experiences and a gift for writing and reporting. Denise takes audiences to the frontlines of life with hospice patients, families and hospice practitioners to provide an intimate lens on how to embrace life’s last chapter. As a columnist for the Orange County Register, she receives numerous emails from readers filled with heartfelt notes of gratitude and tears of those inspired by her stories.

In April 2012, Denise released a book published by University of California Press entitled “Parting Ways: New Rituals and Celebrations of Life’s Passing” about how individuals, families and communities are reinventing their roles on the end of life journey to return intimacy, preparation, participation and celebration to a previously institutionalized occasion. It’s an insightful look into what Denise calls the End-of-Life Revolution driven by the individualized values of the baby boom generation and widespread acceptance of hospice.

Since 2006, Denise was a volunteer with Hospice Care of the West and she began work with their Life Review Video program. She joined the team as they went from bedside to bedside listening and video-recording life review interviews with hospice patients and then into a local high school classroom where students edited these interviews with photographs and music. The final edited life review video was then given to the family as a gift or legacy of life stories from the patient. Denise was instrumental in the vision of creating the Hospice Care of the West blog in 2011 as a online community for patients, families and healthcare professionals to interact and share personal stories and discussions about celebrating life in hospice. It’s not only been instrumental in teaching the community about celebrating life but also rejuvenated our clinical and marketing/sales teams.

Beginning in July 2012, Denise was charged by Hospice Care of the West leadership team to assist the program to “bring the mission home” to our entire team by leading a bi-monthly gathering of our employees called “Celebration!” This gathering has been met with enthusiasm by everyone at Hospice Care of the West as they celebrate each other through a video montage and “Reminiscing Corner” highlighting on video our wonderful hospice team members. Denise is also currently designing a series of classes to educate the community on what is hospice, how to be a compassionate companion, how to record a life review video, how to create end-of-life plans and a lasting legacy. These classes will be taught in the community and also available for our local and national online audiences.

I’m proud to nominate her as a Senior Care Hero who embodies and broadcasts the core values of hospice.

Thank you.

Debbie Robson, RN, BSN, MBA, ACHE
Executive Director
Hospice Care of the West

What is this nominee’s involvement in senior care or senior issues
Because the majority of the work that Denise does in the community is focused on bringing light to telling the wonderful stories of seniors living among us, including her work as a columnist with the OC Register monthly "Parting Ways" column. Her entire life's work is to inspire our seniors to tell their stories and preserve their legacy and wisdom for future generations.