Nicole Kunze joined the Castle Senior Living team in 2021 as the Hospice Director of Nursing. Nicole received her Associate Degree in Nursing from Gateway Technical College and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Chamberlain University. She has close to 20 years of experience working with the geriatric population, including more than 10 years working in assisted living facilities, and an additional seven years of experience within the hospice setting.
We recently sat down with her to learn more.
What do you enjoy most about being the Hospice Director of Nursing at Castle Senior Living?
I enjoy being a leader where I can nurture a warm and welcoming culture amongst my team. Currently, there are only a few of us, but we are looking forward to expanding our team as our hospice program continues to grow.
I also enjoy my patients and learning more about their lives with each visit. They have such great stories! It is important to me to provide quality end-of-life care for all. I had always dreamed of being a nurse. I spent many days with my grandmother, who worked in a senior living community, and I’d spend time helping the patients and hearing their life stories. I think I was only 8 at the time, but I’d volunteer, help prepare meals, run activities and even bring my grandma’s dog around to visit residents. I really enjoyed it and volunteered there throughout high school.
You have close to 20 years of experience working with the geriatric population, what told you that this was the right fit for you?
It is hard to put into words. I grew up with it through my grandmother and then as my grandparents aged, I assisted with their care and was with each of them through end of life. I love to see my residents and patients smile and just enjoy taking care of them. It is always a special moment when you can see that memory being brought back to life. It warms the heart. I enjoy serving them and making sure that their needs are met – especially in hospice. They deserve that comfort and peace as they live out the rest of their life.
I sometimes see one of my patients smile or just enjoy life and think to myself, “I hope that’s me some day.” They have such enthusiasm for life and I just love dancing with them at our little get togethers. It is the little things that make it worth it.
Castle Senior Living provides independent living, assisted living and memory care services and has recently added hospice. Can you tell us more about why you’re excited about this new service offering?
I’m so excited! I was in hospice for about seven years before going into assisted living and I’m so glad to be back in hospice. I truly missed it. My heart belongs here. We have a great team and I’m looking forward to providing continuity of care for our patients.
I’m passionate about serving our terminally ill population and providing quality care during hospice. I see caring for an individual throughout the end of life as a privilege and take great pride in this work. It’s exciting to get this program up and going so that we can provide this service to our Castle Senior Living communities as well as the greater Milwaukee area.
What are you most passionate about professionally? Personally?
Professionally, I’d say I’m most passionate about caring for others. I’m also always willing to learn and love trying new things. Learning is vital as it ensures that we provide the best care for our patients that is anchored in evidence-based practices.
Personally, I’m passionate about my family. My husband and I have five children with the oldest being 16 and youngest is 8. We enjoy going to the ocean, camping, vacationing and spending time outdoors. One of our favorite vacations was spending a week and a half in Maine, where we could go to the beach and enjoyed hiking the trails at Acadia National Park.
We also enjoy watching movies together. We just watched Black Widow and recently finished up watching all the Marvel movies in chronological order. That took some time!
Do you have any secret talents?
I don’t think I have any secret talents – unless multitasking counts? As a mother to five kids, I’ve learned to excel at it. I can hear several conversations happening at the same time and remember what was said. I can be typing a message and be talking on the phone at the same time. Maybe not a secret talent, but certainly a useful one!