Category Archives: Hope Hospice

Sarah’s Interview with KEZK

Greg at the mike

Our community liaison Sarah Bilbrey was interviewed this week by Greg Hewitt, morning host at KEZK (102.5FM) in St. Louis. To listen to their conversation about National Hospice Month and hospice care in St. Louis, please click on the link below.

Hope Hospice Angels? Not Exactly, But…


Hospice personnel have frequently been referred to as “angels.”

By certain definitions, that’s an accurate term. “A person having qualities generally attributed to an angel, (such) as… kindliness.” “A person who…acts as if sent by God.” “Someone who is very good or kind.” “A person of exemplary conduct or virtue.”

Numerous survivors of hospice patients have written letters to us at Hope Hospice describing our staff members as angels. We are not the only hospice to receive such high praise. Some hospices around the U.S. and the world have even gone so far as to include the word “angel” in their hospice name.

While angels depicted on TV and in movies (such as Clarence in It’s A Wonderful Life and Jonathan Smith on Highway To Heaven) have a direct line to heaven and God, our team members cannot make that claim. But our employees and volunteers have served patients and family members with similar dedication and determination to do things the right way. When circumstances dictate a need, our team members go above and beyond to make sure things are taken care of, in the patient’s best interests.

The country music group Alabama sang a song called Angels Among Us, describing angel-like behavior by fellow humans along the path of life. But the chorus speaks of angels sent from “somewhere up above.” About those angels, they sing: “They come to you and me, in our darkest hours… To show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us with the light of love.”

Our Hope Hospice “angels” are not from somewhere up above. They are all mortal, from here on earth. But the level of compassion and care that’s delivered daily to our patients and their family members is exceptional. And for that we are proud.

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

(photo credit:,,










When The Family Has Disagreements About Hospice


When a doctor tells a family member that an illness is terminal, there may be disagreement among other family members about the next steps to take.

When dad has been told that death is just a few months away, sons and daughters may want dad to go on hospice while mom may want to continue aggressive treatment. (Or those sides of the argument may be reversed.)

Frequently, these disagreements occur because of a lack of familiarity with hospice. The concept is still relatively new, just a few decades old in the U.S. Even those in their 70s and 80s who’ve had friends on hospice may not know the full scope of hospice care and may have fallen prey to hospice misconceptions.

The most important things to know are: Hospice care does not speed up the dying process. Hospice is focused on patient comfort and pain relief. If a patient and/or caregivers want to rescind the decision to accept hospice care, it can be easily done.

It can be hard for any family member to face up to the reality that mom, dad, husband, wife or other family member will soon be gone. When a patient signs on for hospice care, there is an implied acknowledgement that life’s finish line is within view.

Convincing others who are providing input into the decision that your position (either for or against hospice care) is the correct choice can be difficult. A visit with a hospice representative can address most of your concerns and may reveal to all concerned that hospice is the proper choice. Or maybe not, for now.

We at Hope Hospice welcome the opportunity to share our story with all who will listen. If you have any questions about hospice care in St. Louis, call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.










You Can Quit Hospice


If a patient or family member is having difficulty making the decision to transition to hospice care, you should know that a patient can stop hospice care at any time.

If, at any point after being admitted for hospice care, a patient or family member feels that the decision was made too soon, you can stop hospice care and resume your previous course of treatment.

If, after beginning hospice care, a patient has a change of heart and chooses to go back to aggressively fighting an illness, that is an option that may be exercised.

If hospice care does not meet expectations, for whatever reason, the commitment to receive hospice care can be cancelled.

The vast majority of patients and families DO continue with the hospice care program they have begun. For family members, the important factor to consider is the welfare of the patient. Is he or she better off with hospice care or with another form of care?

In a small number of cases, a patient may get better or, at least, not get worse and choose to end hospice care. With many noncancerous conditions, it is difficult to predict life expectancy of a patient.

If the fear of signing on for something you cannot step away from is causing you, as a patient or as a family member, to avoid hospice care or to postpone making the decision, don’t be afraid. You can discontinue hospice care whenever you wish.

We at Hope Hospice work hard to meet the needs of patients and families. We explain to you exactly what hospice care is and what it can and cannot do, so that our service will meet expectations.

For questions about hospice care in St. Louis, please call us at Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. We know that hospice may be an unfamiliar concept to many and we are always happy to help with answers to all your questions.


(photo credit,,

Hospice and Nursing Homes

Hospice patients receive care in private homes and in nursing homes. A family member or other loved one may not, for any of numerous reasons, be able to take care of a hospice patient at home. A nursing home may be the best option.

For those in nursing homes, hospice professionals provide most of the same services they provide for patients in private homes.

Hospice teams help patients in nursing homes, as well as their families and nursing home staff. When care is properly coordinated between hospice staff and nursing home staff, the patient benefits and family members are reassured.

Frequent visits by hospice nurses allow the hospice to keep close tabs on a patient’s condition. A hospice physician may visit the patient as needed.

An important part of the hospice care for nursing home patients is pain control. The hospice team makes sure that the patient has medications to address pain and discomfort. The hospice staff works closely with nursing home staff to make sure medications are administered correctly.

Good communication is vital. When a hospice care team gives information about a patient’s specific condition to the nursing home team members, it helps the nursing home staff provide the best possible routine daily care. Likewise, the nursing home team—who work with the patient on a continual basis—needs to be ready to share important information about the patient with hospice personnel, especially significant changes in a patient’s condition.

Of course, the hospice team provides the same emotional and spiritual support to nursing home patients and their families that they offer to those receiving hospice care in private homes.

If a determination is made that your loved one should transition into hospice care and circumstances make it difficult for you to be a caregiver, call us at Hope Hospice and let us help you place your loved one in an area nursing home that meets your needs. Call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.




Another Way Hope Hospice Helps The Community

On most Wednesday mornings, there’s a gathering in the Hope Hospice break room/kitchen area in Hope’s offices.

Carl Lathan, one of Hope Hospice’s Community Liaisons, meets around the kitchen table with a small group of students from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Carl provides them with basic information about hospice care.

“Hospice 101,” as he calls it, introduces these med students to a concept unfamiliar to many of them. Each week’s group includes individuals who are high achievers. They have completed their undergrad work and have competed to attain a spot in a leading medical school. They are among our nation’s best and brightest.

Yet, they know little about hospice. Even those students who do have a passing awareness of hospice care are generally unfamiliar with all the various aspects of hospice care. Carl makes sure they understand the main goals of hospice: ensuring patient comfort and controlling patient symptoms. He also mentions the work hospices do in addressing patient and family emotional and spiritual needs.

Carl Lathan has shared this “Hospice 101” with numerous groups of medical students, so he knows what is most important. However, should any area of his imparted insight remain unclear, he always makes sure there is time for questions.

Allowing the medical school students to learn at Hope Hospice headquarters, where they have the opportunity to sit in on the weekly staff meeting, means they have the chance to hear also from other hospice team members.

For some of these students, this visit with Carl may be the only exposure they will receive to hospice care until they become doctors. Giving these SLU School of Medicine students an opportunity to learn from a veteran hospice professional is something that we at Hope Hospice are proud to provide as a community service.

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

Hospice: NOT A Frightening Word

To some, it’s like the name Valdemort in the Harry Potter books. “He who must not be named” is how characters in the books and movies often referred to the Dark Lord.

For some Americans, the word hospice has a similar vibe. Hospice is associated with death and dying. Simply uttering the word “hospice” can be difficult for patients, family members and even doctors and other medical personnel.

But for many Americans, both patients and their family members, hospice means something good, something positive. A referral to hospice, for many patients, means an end to treatments that may have become ineffective, but are still difficult to endure. A referral to hospice means a focus on a patient’s comfort for the rest of his or her life. A referral to hospice can indicate a doctor’s true concern for a patient’s end-of-life experience.

Hospice is a word that can cause one’s ears to perk up. It can get attention. “Did you say… hospice?” But merely hearing the word spoken out loud should not be a cause for fright or anguish. In fact, when a patient is facing a life threatening health crisis, hospice should be discussed early in treatment.

Knowing that hospice is an option, in case treatment of the condition is less than successful, should actually provide reassurance. Learning about hospice and all that hospice care has to offer before hospice is needed can give a patient and family members a clear understanding of the ways hospice can help.

Rather than react with a shudder of fear when the word hospice is spoken, think of hospice as a health care service designed to make people feel better—patients and family members. Hospice care may not be needed now, or soon, or even for a few or several years.

Don’t be scared of hospice. Don’t panic at the mere mention of the word hospice. This is not a frightening word. It should be regarded as a comforting word.

If you have questions about hospice, call us at Hope Hospice in metro St. Louis at 314-984-9800.

Blessed Are The Caregivers

It is an enormous responsibility. It takes huge amounts of time and patience. It can be physically and mentally strenuous. But serving as a caregiver for a dying family member can be a blessing.

At Hope Hospice we work closely with our patients’ caregivers, providing support and encouragement as well as information and guidance.

The caregiving time, whether a few days or a few months, allows for closeness to a degree that both parties may not have experienced before. The time when death is approaching can lead to surprising candor and even unexpected revelations.

A caregiver can feel that his or her mission is a thankless one. When other family members and even the patient neglect to offer an occasional thank you, the caregiver can become frustrated and resentful. It takes a strong character to realize that yours is special role and you are a special person for accepting the role. (Even if you had little choice.)

Most of us, during our lives, have few extended periods of selflessness that caregivers provide. The challenges of caregiving are immense. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others, including other family members, your church community and good friends. Remember also, as you take care of the patient, it is important for you to maintain your own good health.

When the demands of caregiving become overwhelming, take comfort in knowing that your hospice team members are standing by to help. When problems arise hospice professionals will work to lead you to the right solutions.

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









More On Learning About Hospice

When a doctor or other medical professional mentions the word hospice to a patient or a family member, where does one turn to learn about hospice?

An article posted on this site in September 2013 offers a few suggestions.

The internet provides a number of great resources. It’s possible that an online search has brought you to this page. Here are a few more online pages you may want to check out:

Those sites should help you get started in your quest to learn about hospice.

Members of the clergy who visit sick parishioners and their family members may have knowledge about hospice and the various components of hospice care.

Ask your minister or priest for thoughts on hospice based on his experiences with church members and their family members on hospice.

Remember, too, that you can call us at Hope Hospice in metro St. Louis for information about hospice care. We can answer both general and specific questions. And if we don’t have the information immediately available, we’ll track it down. Our number is 314-984-9800.

When Should Doctors Talk About Hospice?

Why are many doctors hesitant to recommend hospice care? In some cases, they may be uncertain about the kind of response they will receive from the patient and the family. Doctors have told of family members reacting badly when the mere mention of hospice is presented.

In a recent article, University of Pennsylvania Health System doctor David Casarett spoke about that hesitancy, saying, “Physicians don’t want to cause that sort of distress. We’re basically nice people. We don’t want to walk in and start a conversation that will make a person start crying.”

But that hesitancy to address the possibility of hospice care can prevent patients and families from experiencing the full benefits of the care that hospice provides.

In the same article, Dr. Susan Block of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston says, “The average time of the first conversation about end-of-life is 33 days before death. That’s really late, when you think about how much people have to come to terms with.”

She continues, “Hospice is the gold standard for end-of-life care for most people. Yet for many patients, that first conversation about hospice is the first time anyone has told them that their disease wasn’t going well.”

Dr. R. Sean Morrison of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York offers words that doctors can share with patients when talking about hospice. He suggests doctors say something like this: “I wish we had a treatment that could take [your tumor] away, but we don’t. So we need to focus on other treatments that will enable you to have the best quality of life you can have for the longest period of time. That means focusing on pain, avoiding infections, spending more time with your family.”

We acknowledge the fact that talking about end-of-life issues can be just as difficult for doctors as it is for any of us. We encourage doctors, especially those whose patients are dealing with life-threatening conditions, to mention hospice early in the treatment process, so that patients and family members will have a better understanding of what hospice is and what hospice does.

For more information about hospice care, call us at Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.