Taunya Knight is a hospice caregiver for Constellation Hospice in Lewiston, working at Winship Green Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Bath. “I’m more grateful now than I’ve ever been grateful for anything. I love what I do,” she said.  Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald

The essence of Taunya Knight is tenderness and compassion. She brings these attributes, and more, to her work as a hospice caretaker.

And, in our COVID world, she has become a loving bridge between her hospice patients and their families, arranging Zoom visits, scheduling phone calls, wiping tears and holding the hands of patients when their families can not.

After Madeline Beaudoin fell and broke her arm in May, she was moved from her home in Topsham into Winship Green, a nursing home in Bath that could care for her arm as well as her worsening dementia.

The fall happened just two days after Madeline and her husband, Leo, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. She went from the home where she raised her children and had lived with her husband since 1957 into a nursing home where she didn’t know anyone and her family was not permitted to visit.

But, she had Knight.

According to Madeline’s daughter, Karen Beaudoin, Knight “fed my mother, dressed her, bathed her, read to her, listened to music with her, painted her nails, took her for strolls in her wheelchair and got her addicted to hot chocolate.”


She did, Karen said, “all the things we wished we could do — and would have — had it not been for the COVID-19 restrictions.”

Knight has been a CNA for two decades, and moved into hospice work three years ago. “I wish I had gone with hospice 20 years ago,” she said. “It’s such a gift to give.”

Every patient she works with dies. “It gets sad when it comes to an end,” Knight said, but she sees it as her calling to bring happiness to her patients in their final days.

When Madeline was admitted to Winship Green she was highly distressed, worse than many others because of her dementia. But, as soon as Knight started her care, there was an instant bond with Madeline and she calmed right down.

According to Karen, Knight texted several times a week with updates, “to let us know when Mum was having a particularly good day or just to check in to see how we all were doing.”

And, during the final weekend of Madeline’s life, when the family was permitted to physically be with her, “when the family was exhausted from being at her bedside for hours, Taunya allowed us all to take a break while she sat with Mum, held her hand and read to her,” Karen said.


The Beaudoins say they feel like Knight is now part of their family.

And they marvel at her spirit and commitment to her patients.

“The work of these hospice nurses and aides is not for everyone, but people like Taunya make such incredible differences in the lives of the people they care for and their families – in normal times. During the pandemic, she was one of the few bright spots for a patient and family who could visit only through a window screen or from 6 feet apart,” Karen said.

Knight is part of a three-person care team, all of whom are employed by Constellation Hospice in Lewiston, a division of Constellation Health Services in Massachusetts. The other team members include social worker Jacki Lingley and Chaplain Doug Cotta.

Lingley said it is the team’s job to “try our best to cross the barrier and help the family feel like they’re there even when they can’t be.”

Knight, Lingley said, is “just so compassionate and so empathetic. She wants to take care of people the way she would her own family, her mom, her sister, her daughter.”


Every Friday at 9 a.m. Knight would arrange a call between Madeline and Leo, holding the phone to Madeline’s ear as she lost the strength to do that herself.

Every Monday the extended family had a Facetime call and on Thursdays there were Zoom calls. The connection of hearing and seeing each other became very important to the family as Madeline faded.

When Madeline died, Karen said she felt so sad because Knight “had to go back to work now with one less person to care for, and she does it all the time. They’re all going to die.”

Knight “goes back and works with the ones who are there, and that has got to be the hardest thing to do. And that’s your job,” Karen said. “I just can’t wrap my head around how you deal with that, on an ongoing basis. They’re just such wonderful people.”

Every time Knight spoke with the family, Karen said, “every time we talked, every Facetime call, she was just so happy and vibrant, and just encouraging my mother to communicate and, to see them joking with each other, it was just everything that we wished we could do.”

The family found great comfort, Karen said, knowing Knight was with their mother. At the time, she remembers thinking, “I know if Taunya’s going to be with her today, that she’s going to have a good day.”


Cotta said “Taunya is probably one of the most genuine people that I’ve ever met. Who she is as a person is who she is as a caregiver as well.”

What makes her special, he said, “is the compassion that she shows to everyone.”

Although Knight’s work with Madeline is done, Cotta and Lingley continue to support the family. The two still visit Leo Beaudoin every other week at his home, part of Constellation’s commitment to work with families more than 13 months after hospice care has ended.

“We really try to do mind, body and spirit care. We try to encompass everything that anyone could need” as a loved one dies, “especially right now with COVID,” Cotta said.

“The company is focused on kindness and compassion that goes beyond the patient, but includes the family as well.”

Madeline died in late September, and Lingley said she really enjoys her continuing visits with Leo. They play rummy and do brain teasers.


“I am happy to bring some joy into his life, even if just for a couple of hours. To make him not have to think about what he’s lost. Just for a few hours because we all know, as human beings, the minute we lay down on that pillow or have a quiet moment, that’s where the mind goes. It naturally goes to what we miss.”

Knight lives in Limerick and commutes 90 minutes each way to work, using the morning drive to energize herself and the evening drive to wind down before getting home to her three children.

Of her job, and her role in easing pain? She said, “I’m more grateful now than I’ve ever been grateful for anything. I love what I do.”

And she is loved for what she does.

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