Category Archives: hospice employees

Hospice > Assisted Suicide

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In late 2014, Brittany Maynard, attracted a large amount of sympathy and generated much discussion of assisted suicide. The 29-year-old woman with brain cancer chose to end her life in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. She was a beautiful, vivacious young woman whose first-person writings stated her desire to spare her family the tragedy of watching her condition deteriorate as she progressed toward death.

The issue of assisted suicide (often referred to as “death with dignity”) is a polarizing topic with respected individuals and organizations taking stands on both sides of the argument.

In states where assisted suicide is legal, hospice organizations must make decisions as to whether to allow their staff members to participate in these procedures. Many individuals who choose assisted suicide in these states are hospice patients. Most hospices do not allow their staff members to be present when the procedure occurs.

We agree with Dr. Sandeep Jauhar who writes on CNN.com: I still believe that for most terminally ill patients, hospice care is a better option than assisted suicide. Hospice offers team-based care with family involvement, often in a patient’s home, that focuses on pain management and dying with some comfort and dignity.

Wesley Smith, writing last month on FirstThings.com, shared these thoughts: Hospice is about living, not dying. More precisely, hospice supports life with dignity for its patients and offers invaluable social and emotional support for patients’ families.

Noted hospice advocate Dr. Ira Byock, writing in January in the Los Angeles Times, says: I aid people in dying by treating their symptoms and supporting them through the difficult practical and emotional tasks of completing their lives. In more than 35 years of practice I have never once had to kill a patient to alleviate the person’s suffering.

He continues: I believe that deliberately ending the lives of ill people represents a socially erosive response to basic human needs. If we can stay civil and (even relatively) calm, we can debate physician-assisted suicide while also substantially improving end-of-life care.

As with most such controversial topics, much discussion lies ahead. At Hope Hospice, we encourage you to learn about all the ways hospice care can enhance the end of life process and provide comfort and support to patients. If you have questions about hospice care in metro St. Louis, please call us at 314-984-9800.

(photo credit:    http://www.flickr.com/photos/32066106@N06/6087917593, http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/)

 

 

 

 

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Hope Hospice Communicates

The weekly meeting of the Hope Hospice staff each Wednesday morning has many agenda items, but focuses primarily on providing patient updates to the team. Nurses and home health aides share their latest evaluations of a patient’s various conditions. They talk about physical and emotional conditions.

The social worker or the chaplains may also interject input into the discussion about a particular patient. They may mention a remark a patient has made that can be relevant to the patient’s care. A patient’s potential needs may be discussed at these meetings.

The sharing of information among team members is impressive. In some organizations, information is passed along to workers on a “need to know” basis. At Hope Hospice, being informed about patients and their individual circumstances makes it possible for all team members to do the most and best they can for each patient.

Information about new procedures, equipment and regulations is presented to the Hope staff at these weekly meetings. This allows questions to be asked about new information.

In addition to communicating with other staff members in weekly meetings, the entire Hope Hospice team is dedicated to communicating clearly with patients and caregivers. Along with giving information, Hope Hospice personnel listen to patients and caregivers to make sure that needs and wants are receiving proper attention.

Communication is an important element in any medical organization. When a Hope Hospice employee has questions, she or he can knows that answers will be forthcoming. Since Hope Hospice is locally owned and is not part of a large hospital group, management personnel are close by and readily available.

This is good news for Hope Hospice patients and their caregivers. When the lines of communication are direct and do not have to go through numerous levels of administration, concerns are addressed in a timely manner.

At Hope Hospice, good communication practices are a priority. If you have questions about hospice, call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. We will work to answer your questions clearly and completely.

Hope Hospice offices are at 13537 Barrett Parkway (at Manchester and Barrett Station) in west St. Louis County.

An Appreciation of Hospice Nurses

Can we ever say enough about how much our nurses and home health aides provide to our patients and their families?

Theirs is a job that can be rewarding and fulfilling in many ways, but can also be stressful and exhausting. Involving one’s self in the lives of patients and family members is a necessary element of hospice nursing. Yet, at the same time, a hospice nurse must maintain a professional demeanor.

Hospice nurses have the authority to make important decisions regarding a patient’s treatment and welfare. But each hospice nurse is also part of a collaborative team. A significant part of a hospice nurse’s job is sharing information about each patient with other hospice team members, not only during weekly meetings but also by filling out appropriate paperwork.

In addition to taking care of patients, hospice nurses also work closely with family members. Acknowledging cultural differences, monitoring internal family dynamics and respecting family members’ struggles to accept their loved one’s death are major parts of a hospice nurse’s work. For many hospice patients, the main caregiver is a family member. It is of utmost importance that a hospice nurse be able to communicate clearly with all caregivers.

Because a hospice nurse generally works with several patients, time management is a serious concern. A routine patient visit can reveal issues that need to be addressed immediately. Schedules must be adjusted on short notice. Workdays are often extended by several hours.

At Hope Hospice, we know that it takes a special individual to be a good hospice nurse. In addition to top-notch basic nursing skills, a hospice nurse must possess good people skills. He or she must have compassion for the patient and the patient’s family and other loved ones. But the nurse must also be able to be direct and honest when necessary.

It is a tough and demanding job. Some hospice nurses suffer from burnout. Others may experience a condition known as “compassion fatigue.” But with strong support from other hospice team members, including hospice leadership, being a hospice nurse can be a personally gratifying experience.

At Hope Hospice, we value our nurses and respect the dedication they put into their work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Hope Hospice, It’s a Team Effort

A spirit of teamwork and good communication are vital elements in the operation of a hospice care agency like Hope Hospice. To patients and families, the nurses who make multiple visits each week to patient homes are the most familiar faces of the organization. But it takes a team to care for each patient and that teamwork is demonstrated each Wednesday morning at the Hope Hospice staff meeting.

During the meeting, which generally lasts about two hours, the staff is updated on half of the patient roster. The following Wednesday, updates on the other half of the patient roster are presented.

First, the staff is told the latest evaluation of a patient’s medical condition. Then, remarks are made regarding the patient’s awareness and attitude. At this point, others may offer observations about the patient’s home situation, including family dynamics. A home health aide or other team member may suggest that a patient needs special equipment like an adjustable bed or chair. Comments can come from a chaplain, a social worker or an administrator. This information is confidential. It is shared only among hospice staff members.

If a medical staff member may mention a particular issue regarding a patient, another Hope Hospice team member may offer insight that can help resolve that issue. Sharing simple remarks about a patient’s personal likes and dislikes can help other staff members be more productive in their work with a patient. A mention of friction between particular family members can help hospice staff minimize the effects of that friction. Information that is freely shared among hospice staff helps build the team spirit and helps make our work with patients more efficient.

The weekly staff meeting at Hope Hospice allows personnel to get their questions answered by hospice leaders and administrators. The meeting lets staff get to know one another. It’s an important way to make sure that our Hope Hospice staff is not just a collection of employees but instead… a real team!