Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hospice Care Professionals

If you have ever been involved with or heard of HOSPICE, you probably know it is a fantastic concept of caring for individuals by health professionals and volunteers for those near the end of life. Hospice gives medical, psychological and spiritual support. The goal is to help people who are dying have peace, comfort and dignity. They also help in the bereavement process for individuals and families after the loved one dies.

There are many misconceptions about what hospice can do for you, so here are some facts. Hospice care can take place at home, at a hospice center, in a hospital or in a skilled nursing facility. The care is provided to patients who have a limited life expectancy. Volunteers can come to your home and visit with the patient, help with daily chores like shaving and bathing and they can keep the patient company. Therapists, clergy, and counselors can come by to help also. Professional medical care by doctors, nurses and home health aides is given and sophisticated symptom relief provided. The patient and family are both included in the care plan and emotional, spiritual and practical support is given based on the patient’s wishes and family’s needs. The goal of the hospice team is to be sensitive and responsive to the special requirements of each individual and family. They emphasize palliative rather than curative treatment; quality rather than quantity of life, allowing the dying to be comforted.

I do know many who have had experiences with hospice and all of them were pleased with the care received and the caring atmosphere all around them. Keep in mind that the quantity and quality of all services can vary significantly from one hospice to another. To find the best hospice for your personal needs, ask your doctor, clergy, social workers or friends who have received care for a family member.

Hospice coverage is widely available. Check with your employer or health insurance provider. For older individuals Medicare and Medicaid provide hospice care. If you are not covered, some hospices will provide for anyone who cannot pay, using money raised from the community or from memorial or foundation gifts.

Finding a hospice program that meets your needs may take some research, but it will be worth your while to spend the time. You need to consider quality of care, availability of neded services, personnel training and expertise and coverage. Your community may have information and referral services available through the American Cancer Society, United Way, Visiting Nurse Association or your place of worship. Sometimes just looking in the yellow pages or going to google is helpful.

Once the patient has died, many families need help to get through their grief journey and their services provide that also by continuing their contact and support for at least a year following the death of a loved one. Many hospices also sponsor bereavement groups and support for anyone in the community and grief groups are very helpful whether a child or adult.

No amount of knowledge can prepare us for bereavement. Grief is the most intense and enduring emotion we can experience. There are no quick fixes, no short-cuts. An ancient African saying says, “There is no way out of the desert except through it.” Knowledge of the grief process gives us a very generalized map of the terrain we have to cover. Each of us will take a different route. Each will choose his own landmarks. Each will travel at his own unique speed and will navigate using the tools provided by his culture, experience and faith. In the end, he will be forever changed by his journey.

1 comment:

  1. I agree...grief leaves a mark on us that never completely lifts. It may change with time but the unique imprint it brings stays forever. Sometimes, it is comforting to remember that the candles of Heaven burn not too far away, and that we will all be just a while.