“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life.”
Dame Cicely Saunders said these words over 50 years ago when describing the dignity a person deserves until their final moments. Serious illness impacts every aspect of a person’s life, and for many of our patients, it can make it difficult or impossible to maintain the same level of care to their appearance they did prior to becoming ill. Hosparus Health’s licensed hair care volunteers provide a much-needed service in patient’s homes, giving them a chance to look their best.
Hairstylist David Timperman has offered his talents to Hosparus Health patients for almost 10 years. He is owner of the salon, Bangs, in Downtown Louisville. Like many volunteers, David had a personal experience with a loved one in hospice care and wanted to give back.
A hairstylist for nearly 40 years, David has his own system of providing great service, including using a large cape behind the patient and one covering them. Depending on the patient’s pain level, a visit will usually take 40 minutes, and often depends on the caregiver. David is so outgoing and easy to talk to, that often times caregivers, who may not be able to leave the home, are thrilled to have him as a visitor. The caregiver is an important part of the hair care visit, helping David position the patient and propping up their loved one so he can get to the back of their head, the hardest part of a hair care visit.
It’s a different process cutting hair of a bedridden patient, but he says the benefit to the patient is worth any of his own discomfort.
David goes wherever the patient calls home, and has visited patients in nursing homes and our inpatient care center, the HICC. One of the more emotional experiences for him happened at the HICC. He once visited a woman with long hair who told him that her whole life she had wanted short hair, but never had the courage to do it. She told him, “Why not now?” and asked for a short pixie cut. Once the appointment was complete, he held up the mirror for her, and she started to cry. He thought he had done something horrible to her hair, but she was so happy with her new style that she was crying tears of joy.
David said that he enjoys what he does so much and finds it so rewarding that he feels like he is the one who benefits the most. He recounted another emotional experience after cutting the hair of a non-verbal patient. Afterwards, the patient told David “thank you,” and his caregiver told David that was the first time the man had spoken in two years.
Licensed hair care stylists must meet all the requirements of patient and family care volunteers, in addition to keeping their license current yearly and completing a competency evaluation with Hosparus Health staff and another hair care professional every three years.
With his salon in the shadow of the Omni Hotel, Derby time brings guests from out of town who are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a visit with David to look their best. While the circumstances are much different for our patients, as a volunteer, David offers them the same thing. We are so grateful for the special care David provides our patients, helping them to feel better about themselves.
Maya Angelou said that, “Dignity really means that I deserve the best treatment that I can receive. And that I have the responsibility to give the best treatment I can to other people.” This is exactly what David brings to Hosparus Health as a hair care volunteer.