Hope Hospice employees are sometimes asked: “You deal with death and dying on a daily basis. How can you not be sad and downbeat?” As Hope Hospice chaplain John Wilson explains, “Yes, we deal with death. But we also deal with life.”
Hope Hospice and its staff members recognize the serious conditions of patients and the concerns of caregivers. But the Hope Hospice team knows that patients want a smile and an upbeat disposition with each visit. One patient may want a joke. Another may want a Budweiser. They don’t want doom and gloom from the Hope staff people who drop by several times a week.
Persons not familiar with hospice may think that hospice care is only for those who are literally on their deathbeds. While Hope Hospice does sometimes add patients just days or hours before their passing, most of our patients are with us for several weeks to several months.
The main requirement for admission to hospice is a diagnosis that indicates a life expectancy of six months or less. Patients frequently live well beyond that six-month period. (This life extension may be one of the more positive effects of hospice care.) Patients in the early period of the end-of-life process do not need to be reminded of what lies ahead. Instead, Hope Hospice tries to bring a bit of joy to each patient visit. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it is a goal.
When you walk into the offices of Hope Hospice in West St. Louis County, you’re likely to see a couple of people hanging out by the receptionist’s desk, talking and sharing a laugh. You might see a group of employees sitting around the kitchen table having coffee and a pleasant chat. You will notice employees in offices, doing paper work and listening to music. The Hope Hospice office is not a grim environment.
When we lose a patient, however, we grieve alongside the family and caregivers. The entire Hope Hospice organization feels a large share of sadness when a patient leaves this world. But to be productive and provide the best possible patient care, Hope Hospice team members strive to stay upbeat. Our patients want our services delivered with a smile. We do our best to make it happen.