Monthly Archives: January 2015

Hospice Education: A Never Ending Process

Hope Patient

Are more Americans using hospice? Yes. Are more Americans learning about hospice? Yes. Are there still many Americans who do not know what hospice is and what it provides? Yes.

While progress is being made, there continues to be much work to be done. Our Hope Hospice community liaison staffers are able to share a great deal of information with patients and families considering hospice. They can detail the main elements of hospice care and answer questions about the services Hope Hospice provides.

But a clearer understanding of hospice is important for all members of the public. Generally, this understanding does not occur until a family member is facing a serious threat to his or her life. Learning about hospice well before care is needed may help families and patients make more confident decisions

We applaud those who take the message of hospice directly to Americans. These include Dr. Atul Gawande whose newest book Being Mortal addresses end-of-life issues.

Online research can lead patients and family members to web postings that provide useful information about hospice. These include articles, blogs and videos.

In addition to online resources, your local minister may be able to offer guidance. We suggest that all religious leaders, especially pastors, priests and rabbis, pursue knowledge of hospice care. Since these leaders interact with so many church members seeking counsel, their acute awareness of hospice is vital.

It is also important that more members of the medical community get the full story on hospice care. Not just specialist such as oncologists and cardiologists, but also other medical professionals who can direct patients to the next steps on their life journeys.

We especially encourage individuals who have had a personal experience with hospice care to share their stories with others. A personal conversation can enlighten in ways that more formal presentations cannot.

As our effort to educate the public about hospice care continues, you may call Hope Hospice at any time with specific question about hospice in St. Louis. Call 314-984-9800.








Hope Hospice Needs Volunteers

Home care

Hope Hospice needs volunteers. No medical experience is necessary. In fact, as a hospice volunteer, you are not allowed to perform any medical functions. The main thing our volunteers provide to our patients is companionship.

Our organization is looking for compassionate people who might have some time to spend with a hospice patient. Hope Hospice volunteers receive several hours of individual training to prepare themselves for this important service.

A Hope Hospice volunteer works with one patient at a time. The volunteer visits the patient at the patient’s home or care facility. A volunteer can talk to the patient, read to the patient, watch a video with the patient—whatever the patient and caregiver prefer.

Occasionally, a volunteer may be asked to stay with a patient for a brief time while the caregiver steps out for a shopping trip or a walk around the block.

Hope Hospice volunteers undergo a thorough background check. This, along with our training, allows us to assure patients and families that our volunteers are people we trust.

Not everybody has what it takes to be a hospice volunteer. For some, the reality of being a hospice volunteer may not match up to what was imagined. For others, working with a person who is facing the end of life may present emotional challenges. However, the gratification of providing your time to a person who greatly appreciates it can be very rewarding.

An important characteristic of every Hope Hospice volunteer is reliability. When we tell a patient or caregiver that a volunteer will be there, we want to be confident that the volunteer will arrive as expected.

Hope Hospice volunteers come in all ages and from all backgrounds. From students to empty nesters to retired individuals, we welcome all who may be interested.

If you would like to help by donating some of your valuable time—and your compassion—to Hope Hospice patients, please call our volunteer coordinator C. J. Bilbrey at the Hope Hospice office at 314-984-9800.

For information about hospice care in metro St. Louis, call Hope Hospice any time at 314-984-9800.

Don’t Wait—Do It Now (Or Soon)


Among the biggest misconceptions about hospice care is the belief that hospice is only for the final few days of a person’s life. At Hope Hospice, we continually work to inform the community that a patient and the patient’s family can get much more from hospice care if the call is made to hospice before those last few days.

It’s easy to understand why some people think about hospice this way. We frequently see or hear news about a famous person who is receiving hospice care. In many cases, we then read just a day or two after that first mention of hospice that the person has died. This tends to reinforce the idea that hospice is only for those who are just days away from death.

A person is eligible for hospice care when it has been determined that he or she has a life expectancy of six months or less. If a patient lives beyond the initial six months enrollment period, he or she can be recertified for another six months of hospice care. With many terminal conditions, estimating the amount of time a patient has remaining is often imprecise.

To receive the full benefit of all the services Hope Hospice and other hospice agencies have to offer, contact should be made as soon as possible when a diagnosis indicates a need for hospice care. This allows the hospice team to tend to a patient’s emotional, spiritual and social needs, as well as provide the services our nurses and home health aides provide.

At Hope Hospice we often are told by surviving family members, “We wish we had called you sooner.” While hospice care is always available help manage pain during a patient’s final days, that’s certainly not the only thing that hospice care is good for.

To learn more about hospice care in metro St. Louis, call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

(photo credit:, sparkle glowplug via,

The Last Dance and “Social Death”


The college textbook titled The Last Dance: Encountering Death and Dying examines death from several angles. The book, used in courses at the University of Missouri St. Louis, considers, among other aspects of life’s end, the “social role” of the dying patient.

The book’s co-authors Lynne Ann DeSpelder and Albert Lee Strickland write: “the death of the body is a physical phenomenon, whereas the passing of the person is a nonphysical (social, emotional, psychological, spiritual) one. When we focus on the former and neglect the latter, biological death may be preceded by social death.”

The authors suggest that a person who acknowledges the reality of his or her impending death may want to examine and assess the life that is nearing its end. A dying person may want to consider his or her life’s “balance sheet,” and attempt to answer questions about life goals achieved or not achieved. Some who are dying may be concerned about legacies and may wonder “how will I be remembered when I’m gone?”

Upon recognizing that life’s end is approaching, DeSpelder and Strickland write, a dying person may be concerned about “re-examining beliefs, reconciling life choices, examining loving relationships, exploring lifetime contributions, discovering meaning, exploring ideas and beliefs about an afterlife.”

Among the needs of dying patients is the need to give and receive love. The authors point out that: “Reconciliation is a key element in satisfying this human spiritual need.”

At Hope Hospice, our chaplains and our social worker guide patients and families down the difficult and unfamiliar road leading to the end of life. They work to prevent social death from occurring before the physical death of the patient. Helping a patient examine his or her life and how it has been lived is part of the care they provide.

For more information about hospice care in St. Louis, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. We are always ready to answer your questions.

(photo credit:,,