What is Hospice?
Hospice care is the highest level of care provided at home, wherever that may be. It is provided in private homes, long term care facilities, assisted living facilities, and even in hospitals. A team of expertly trained professionals and volunteers works with the patient and family to develop a plan of care which meets their individual needs and goals. This plan will include pain management and symptom control, as well as emotional, psychological, and spiritual support and counseling for the stress and existential pain of the end-of-life journey.
The Hospice Team
Members of the hospice team involved directly in the care of the patient and family include the following:
Our medical director and hospice providers are board certified in Hospice and Palliative Care and will work closely with the clinical staff to determine appropriate medical interventions. They provide expertise in pain and symptom control at the end of life and make home visits to patients as needed to consult with the patient and family on disease progression and the best ways to manage it.
Our hospice nurses will assess the patient’s pain, symptoms, bowels, safety, and functional status and determine how frequently the patient should be seen. As the symptoms may increase as the disease progresses the nurse will increase visit frequency accordingly. Additionally, the nurse will provide education to the patient and family about the disease process, what medication to use and when to use it, nutritional needs as the patient declines, and caring for the patient on a daily basis.
Home Health Aide
Our licensed nursing assistants, also called home health aides, help patients with the activities of daily living: toileting, bathing, shaving, and dressing. They recognize how important it is to preserve the patient’s dignity and will care for them with respect and compassion. They will also help educate the family on providing personal care to the patient as they decline and can assist with light homemaking.
Hospice social workers assist patients and families to make decisions about their care, completing advanced directives, do not resuscitate orders (DNR) and POLST (physician order for life sustaining treatment) forms. In addition they will help access community resources, as well as applying for Medicaid. They provide counseling related to family communication, anxiety, depression, role changes, and caregiver stress. They help to access services to address financial needs and legal matters, and assist with funeral planning.
Spiritual Care Counselor
Our team of Spiritual Care Counselors offers a compassionate, respectful presence to support hospice patients and their families at the end of life. The dying process can bring up many questions and emotions and Spiritual Care Counselors provide deep and reflective listening to help process feelings of fear, loss and anticipatory grief. Through reviewing the life of the dying, the team reconnects patients and families with their sources of strength, meaning and dignity, whether they relate to religion or not. Coming from a wide variety of faith experiences and backgrounds, our counselors can serve as intermediaries between patients and their own faith communities when those ties have been lost or provide additional support to patients who are currently receiving spiritual support from their faith communities.
When a patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the shockwaves they feel ripple through to the caregiver and family. Feelings of loss and grief begin almost immediately. The grief over what has changed, what can no longer be, and what is inevitable is called anticipatory grief. Our bereavement counselor works with the caregiver and family to understand that the feelings are normal and a natural reaction to a difficult and poignant situation. Meeting with caregivers prior to the patient’s death provides a foundation for the time of mourning afterward.
Bereavement Services & Grief Support Groups
The death of a loved one leaves behind feelings of loss which give way to deep pain. Working through the pain is what is called grief work. Although no two experiences are the same, we do know that it is a process that all must go through. Reactions, though typical, will differ for each person and vary in degree, intensity and duration.
It is the goal of the Bereavement Program of Rockingham Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice to help those who have experienced loss understand and normalize their feelings of grief.
Our team provides bereavement support through grief support groups and short-term counseling in private residences, nursing homes, and hospitals. The grief support groups are also offered to the general public, free of charge, so that grief can be expressed in a healthy context.
ADULT BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT GROUPS
These six week closed groups provide an opportunity for those who are grieving the death of a loved one to meet in a safe, supportive environment and share with others who are also experiencing loss. All groups are led by trained grief support group facilitators. Support groups are offered year round in the fall, winter, spring and summer and take place at a variety of our locations for your convenience. Registration for these groups is required. For details on when and where our six week groups are taking place, please call 603-580-8948.
ADULT DROP-IN BEREAVEMENT MONTHLY SUPPORT GROUPS
These grief support groups meet once a month and are for those interested in exploring the grieving process or for those looking for monthly support after having gone through our six week support group. There is no registration required to attend and there is no ongoing commitment. There is an open discussion and topics for discussion rotate each session. All groups are led by trained grief support group facilitators. Currently, our monthly drop-in grief support group is being held on the second Monday of every month from 2:00pm-3:30pm at the Epping Regional Health Center, 212 Calef Highway, Epping. For questions, please call 603-580-8948.
BEREAVEMENT SERVICES OFFERED AT ROCKINGHAM VISITING NURSE ASSOCIATION & HOSPICE ALSO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
- “Celebration of Life” Annual Memorial Service - Family members and friends are invited to attend this special remembrance held every spring to celebrate the lives of loved ones lost over the past year.
- Grief educational materials for all ages, including children and teens
- Community resource information including further long-term grief support
- Long-term counseling resources
- Bereavement Volunteers
- Caregivers Day of Respite
- Workshops such as “Healing Hearts – A One Day Valentine’s Day Workshop ”
- A year of mailings including readings, grief educational material and information on available support opportunities
For further information about Bereavement Services, please call Rockingham VNA & Hospice Bereavement Coordinator at 603-580-8948.
Hospice volunteers are ordinary people who go through extensive training to prepare them to companion with a patient who is on their end of life journey. They provide emotional support to the patient by helping them to feel less isolated and by engaging them in activities and life review. They can serve in a variety of ways, including providing respite so caregivers can have personal time, running errands or doing shopping, and even sitting vigil with patients who are dying.
A terminal diagnosis can be a lonely experience. At a time when understanding is needed most, many hospice patients find themselves isolated even from family and friends. Hospice volunteers can help end that isolation. By providing compassion and companionship volunteers engage patients in activities that enrich their end of life experience and lessen feelings of loneliness.
Hospice volunteers can provide respite for weary caregivers, record patient stories to leave a legacy, play cribbage or scrabble, read to patients, write letters for the patient, cook meals, garden or even run errands. The possibilities are endless. Additionally, volunteers can facilitate bereavement support groups, make bereavement calls and help with office tasks.
Volunteer trainings are held in the Spring and in the Fall and are 8 weeks in length. Additionally, independent study training can be arranged. Topics covered in both trainings are:
- Hospice philosophy and model of care
- What is covered under hospice care and who pays for it?
- Qualifying for Hospice Care
- Symptom management
- Death and Dying
- Grief and Bereavement
- Spirituality at the End of Life
- Boundaries, Active Listening, Empathy and Sympathy
- Advance Directives
- Abuse and Neglect
- Patient Rights, Confidentiality, Infection Control, Safety
- Caring for Veterans
If you are interested in becoming a hospice volunteer call us at 1-800-540-2981