November is National Hospice Month.
Because hospice is a concept that is sometimes
misunderstood, we will attempt to answer some questions and remove the
Hospice is a means of caring derived from medieval
times, symbolizing a place where travelers, pilgrims, the sick, wounded
and dying could find rest and comfort.
The modern hospice offers a wide ranging program of care
to patients and families facing a life threatening illness. Hospice is,
first of all, a concept of care, not a specific place of care.
Are you or someone you know seriously ill with an
illness of which there is no cure, a caregiver in need of assistance to
handle everyday care of someone seriously ill, or looking for the best
care available provided by experts in the fields of symptom and pain
Hospice emphasizes palliative care rather than treatment
that will cure. It places the emphasis on quality of life, rather than
quantity of life. The dying are comforted, professional medical care is
given, and sophisticated symptom relief is provided.
The patient and family are included in the care plan,
and emotional, spiritual and practical support is given based on the
patient’s wishes and the family’s needs. Trained volunteers can offer
relief care for family members, as well as support for the patient.
Hospice confirms life and regards dying as a normal
process. It neither hastens nor postpones death, but provides
personalized services and caring surroundings so that patients and their
families can have the necessary preparation for death that is in
accordance to their beliefs.
Those involved in the process of dying have a variety of
physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs. The nature of dying is
so unique that the goal of the hospice team is to be sensitive and
responsive to the special requirements of each individual and their
Hospice care is provided to patients who have a limited
life expectancy. Hospice will accept any patient, regardless of their
age or type of illness. These patients have made a decision to spend
their last months at home or in a homelike setting.
Death is never easy--for the family or the patient. It
has been said that birth and death are similar in some ways. If you
could ask any unborn child if they would like to leave where they are
and be born into a new world, they would all choose to stay safe and
secure in the womb.
Birth and death have some similarities. They both are
monumental occurrences that change your life forever. When we talk about
birth, we would say something like: “There is a baby inside you. It will
come out. The way it comes out is different for everyone.” We talk about
all of the details, even the unexpected situations that might be faced.
The family is better prepared to deal with the event, and a crisis, if
one should occur.
It is time we start talking about death in the same way.
We need to hear about pain control, agitation, delirium, hallucinations,
and restlessness. That way, if one of those arises when you experience a
death, you will be better prepared.
Now is the time to learn more about Hospice Care
services, so you can make informed decisions regarding your choice of
care. End of life care will be difficult to discuss, but it will be best
for family members to be able to share their wishes long before it
becomes a concern.
Hospice Care feels that life is for the living. It wants
to help patients and families enjoy time together during end of life
Hospice Care services are provided regardless of
financial situation. A patient will never be asked to sign over home or
property in return for Hospice services.
Most insurances provide coverage. Medicare Part A covers
hospice services at no cost to Medicare recipients.
Hospice Care services are available to anyone of any
age, from infants to elderly, diagnosed with a life-limiting disease.
There is a misconception that a hospice patient cannot
return to the hospital or see their family doctor. Patients are
encouraged to continue to see their family doctor. They are encouraged
to call the Hospice nurse to assist with admission or take care of the
patient’s symptoms at home, according to their desires.
Services available can be discussed in detail by
scheduling an informational visit from a Hospice Care professional in
your home. Call 1-866-656-9790 or 853-2279.
Hospice Care workers include, left to right, regional clinical
director Wendy Bound, RN; primary care coordinator Misty Rexroad, RN;
Heather Minnich, RN; Eunice Coberly, RN; Angie McDonald, LPN; Amanda
Hamrick, RN; and Connie Hardman, aide.
Roberta Kuhl (left), bereavement counselor, and Lisa Sims, social
Julie Beckner, regional community outreach coordinator
Clubs, churches and other organizations can schedule an
informational program by calling Julie Beckner, 853-2279 or 517-8868.