Our Hospice team consists of individuals with diverse skills, experiences, and a true sense of commitment to patients and families. Those who work in hospice believe that qualities, such as competency, empathy, warmth, and caring are key when choosing someone to be a team member. This team of caregivers is led by a medical director and includes the patient’s primary care physician, nurses, medical social workers, hospice aides, pharmacists, nutritionists, volunteers, clergy, and physical, speech, and occupational therapists. They place special emphasis on providing family members and caregivers with insight about the physical and emotional needs of the patient. We believe that understanding is the first step in fostering good communication and support. Together with the patient and family, our team develops an individualized plan of care focusing on quality of life, care and comfort, pain management and symptom control. Although team members bring to the patient different skills and strengths, they are united for one purpose—to help the patient find comfort and peace.
The hospice nurse will explain the hospice philosophy and services that are offered. The nurse works with the patient and family, and the patient’s physician to develop a care plan to meet the patient’s needs. The goal is to provide symptom and pain management while providing the patient with the highest quality of life. The hospice nurse assesses the patient’s comfort level and symptoms, works with the patient’s physician to manage pain and symptoms, performs treatments, such as wound care, dressing changes, or evaluating the need for equipment, and teaches the patient and caregivers how to manage symptoms and teach about the use, timeliness, and side effects of both routine and comfort medications.
Medical Social Workers
Hospice social work is the professional practice of assisting those people diagnosed with a terminal illness and their network of family and friends with understanding, coping with and navigating the multiple dimensions of death and dying. Using a strengths-based perspective, social work achieves this through counseling, referral advocacy and by working to enhance the environment. The social worker can facilitate discussions related to fears and concerns at end of life, conduct patient/family meetings to clarify goals of care, help with the completion of advanced directives, assess financial/insurance issues and guide transitions across care settings when needed. Many of our social workers hold an advanced certification in hospice and palliative care.
End of life has been described by some as a spiritual event with medical implications. For many, this time reopens questions about the meaning of life and final wishes. The chaplain can be a companion or resource in this search for ultimate meaning for both patient and family. The chaplain can listen compassionately to patient needs and challenges and those of the patient’s family, assist with connection to the religious community, arrange music environment or spiritual hymns, help patients prepare a Memory Book, and share in prayer or meditation.
The Hospice Aide visits according to the plan of care, and can perform duties such as bathing, mouth care, skin care, make and change the patient’s bed as needed, provide assistance with toileting, and assist in feeding. Our aides have received special training in caring for the needs of the hospice patient.
Volunteers are an important part of the hospice team. Our volunteers receive comprehensive training and can stay with the patient to provide rest to the family and caregivers, be a companion, read to the patient, run errands, and prepare light meals.
Hospice provides thirteen months of support for both family and friends after the death of the patient. The program provides a variety of services to family and friends coping with grief. Services include letters, telephone calls, support groups, annual memorial services, and referrals for counseling.
The physical, occupational, and speech therapists promote quality of life and safety for the patient and caregivers. The Hospice nurse and patient’s physician determines if these services are necessary. The therapist can identify safety hazards, identify equipment needs, teach transfer skills to the patient and caregiver, evaluate swallowing difficulties and recommend safe ways to assist with swallowing.