THE MOST COMMON STATEMENT I hear from families after their experience with us is, “Gee, I wish we had gone with hospice sooner.” Although each of us is mortal, death and dying are not something we spend much time thinking about. We’re too busy living day to day.
When a loved one receives a terminal diagnosis, it is hard for them, and for their families, to come to terms with the fact that time is limited. Time together suddenly becomes a precious commodity.
Hospice does its best work when life is measured in weeks or months, supporting not only our patients by managing pain and other chronic disease symptoms, but supporting the family members caring for them. Here are just a few of the ways we support family caregivers:
1. We teach you techniques to make your job easier and your loved one
more comfortable, such as how to safely transfer from a wheelchair into a
bed without straining your back.
2. Our team arranges delivery of medically appropriate supplies to make your loved one
more comfortable while easing your burdens. Examples include walkers, wheelchairs, hospital beds and bedside commodes.
3. A hospice nurse provides instructions and support to help you organize and administer medications, change dressings, and assist with care between visits. Our hotline gives you aroundthe-clock access to a nurse.
4. A hospice nursing assistant (HNA) frees up more family time by providing compassionate care that preserves your loved one’s dignity. The HNA assists as needed with toileting, showering, personal grooming, the changing of bed linens and other needs.
5. It is vital that family caregivers take breaks to preserve their wellbeing. We help by providing care for your loved one at our HMC Hospice of Medina County in-patient care unit, or by sending a trained, respite care volunteer to your home so you can run errands, meet friends or relax and unwind.
6. Frequently, family business affairs must be put in order. Our social worker assists
you in accessing the community resources needed.
7. Members of the trans-disciplinary hospice care team – such as a social worker or an advanced practice nurse – can assist in completing an Advance Directive (AD). This is an important set of documents that communicate end-of-life care preferences.
8. A spiritual care coordinator is also available, if desired. Your hospice care team will help you manage stress, provide coping strategies and help the entire family understand what is happening, and what to expect.
9. Bereavement specialists are available to help you and your family prepare for the
upcoming loss and to provide grief support for 13 months after a loved one’s death.
About the Author
Gwen Rifici, a resident of Medina, has 25 years of experience as a social worker.
She is Clinical Team Leader at HMC Hospice of Medina County, a Hospice of the
Western Reserve affiliate.