Hospice is Care for the Whole Family

undefinedWhen families contact hospice, they anticipate the benefits their terminally ill loved one will receive by having nurses and aides provide care in their home. What many families don’t realize until they invite hospice into their lives is the level of care that is offered to their entire family.

It starts with nurses and aides. The additional support means that the family isn’t in this alone. Nurses answer questions and provide instruction on how to administer medications and use medical equipment. Aides give families a break from daily routine care activities like bathing, grooming and linen changes.

But the support doesn’t end with just providing the patient with extra physical care.

Each family’s hospice team also includes a social worker, chaplain, volunteer coordinator and bereavement coordinator to help them at this emotional time.

Social workers are the organizers of the team. They work with the patient and family on the goals of care and ensure that end-of-life wishes are met. They can help negotiate difficult family conversations or arrange for out-of-state relatives to visit. Social workers assist with confusing insurance paperwork and can connect families with local services like Meals On Wheels or facilities that offer respite stays.

At Crossroads Hospice, social workers also work with the hospice team to plan each patient’s Gift of a Day. The Gift of a Day experience is as varied as our patients. We’ve seen everything from family dinners and helicopter rides to special musical performances. While the Gift of a Day is a nice event for the patient, it is the family who has the lasting memory of having this wonderful experience.

Chaplains offer emotional and spiritual support to the whole family, not just the patient. Chaplains are not there to convert anyone to a particular faith. Instead they work to honor your spiritual beliefs and help families through tough decisions. They, too, can assist with funeral arrangements to make certain the family’s beliefs and traditions are being respected.

Volunteer Managers coordinate volunteers to assist the patient and family in any way needed. Volunteers can sit with a patient to give the family a much-needed break to meet their own needs. Volunteers can also help a family by running errands or picking up groceries.

Crossroads Hospice volunteer managers are also responsible for arranging our Life Journal program. Volunteers meet with patients and learn their stories and gather photos from their lives. These are arranged into a book that is presented to the families as a gift from their loved one, helping to preserve those wonderful family stories.

Support from hospice does not end when the patient passes away. The bereavement coordinator is there to assist families as they work through the grieving process, providing both individual and group support opportunities.

One of the greatest benefits of having hospice involved in the care of a terminally ill loved one is the presence of staff members who are able to accompany the caregivers in the journey,” says Crossroads Hospice Emotional Support Services Specialist Sherri Bickley. “Caregiving can be a very lonely and isolating job at times and having people to talk to about struggles, ask difficult questions, and celebrate the small victories of each day can help immensely. Hospice staff members can also help to normalize the caregivers’ fears, experiences and feelings. This support is extremely helpful in the day-to-day task of caregiving.”

If you have questions about the support hospice offers to families, please give us a call at 888-603-6673. We’re here to help.

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Copyright © 2015 Crossroads Hospice. All rights reserved.

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