Hospice Care Services

In this article, I will outline key points my fellow hospice team members and I have observed in our day to day work.. I have worked over 12 years as a Spiritual Counselor in Hospice Care. Each person teaches me something, though it is I who is supposed to minister to them in the final moments. For my colleagues and I, working in hospice is an ongoing challenge and learning experience, that presents us with learning of the deepest kind – on a soul level. In this article, I share with you the perspectives of my colleagues and myself, at a Hospice Center in Northern, IN (USA). We work together as a team and here are some of the insights from my colleagues.

Hospice is not a place. It is a concept of care. Hospice staff go to people’s homes and extend care for the mind, body, and soul. Much of our work is to free people of physical pain, so a patient can be attentive to living until he/she dies. This is a time when many patients reflect on their life. This integration occurs naturally and is deeply embedded in the psyche/soul of an individual.

Much of the work we do at the end of life is transitional. We are supporting a dying patient as he/she moves into becoming more soul than body. It is a work that challenges and changes anyone who is touched by a person whom I like to say is “awakening into their most authentic self.”

Our Hospice President wanted me to remind doctors of the need to have appropriate points of referral to Hospice Care. Early referrals enable all the services of Hospice care to become established and integrate holistic care. In addition to physicians, hospice centers are comprised of volunteers, social workers, nurses, bereavement counselors, and spiritual counselors who work to establish care, creating the opportunity for patients and families to share their deepest concerns.

My co-workers in the social work department wanted me to share the importance of good listening. The patient is dying to everything he or she has ever known.. As he or she begins to die, they become very reflective, and may want to share their reflections with their caregivers.

Through these reflections, a patient gives meaning to their life. When we listen to a patient share their story, we are being invited into their soul. The tears that surface are symbols of love a person acknowledges and encountered during the course of his or her life.

My colleagues in Nursing wanted me to remind healthcare professionals to be liberal with medications for pain relief. It is vital to give a patient enough medication to keep him or her from being in pain. Hospice Nurses gauge this daily in their patients. The doctor/nurse team in palliative care is so important that one cannot underestimate the cooperation and good communication needed between health care team members to do what’s in the best interest of the patient.

When a patient’s pain is under control, the ability to hospice care service  focus on living creates hope in the midst of dying. This capacity to have quality of life in the midst of dying gives the patient a sense of control that disease takes away. Our ability to create this quality of life for a dying patient is a wonderful use of our medical capacities in order to bring healing comfort to those who need it.

The Bereavement Counselors on my team wanted to share with medical professionals the importance of taking time to understand and comfort family members, especially those who are care givers of the terminally ill. It is vital to the bereavement process that doctors and nurses take time to share with the caregivers that their loved one is dying.

 

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