Category Archives: St. Louis

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.

When The Family Has Disagreements About Hospice

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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/)

 

 

 

 

Considering Hospice?

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If you have been considering hospice for yourself or for your spouse, partner, parent, sibling or other family member, here are a few things you should know.

  1. The primary goal of hospice care is to provide comfort and peace of mind to patients.
  2. Hospices provide this service in private homes and care facilities.
  3. Hospice nurses and home health aides monitor a patient’s condition through in-person visits several times each week.
  4. Hospice staff members offer guidance for family members regarding care for patients. Hospice agencies provide supplies as needed, such as hospital beds, adult diapers and oxygen for home use.
  5. Hospice is a fully covered by Medicare. Other private and government-issued insurance plans typically cover hospice care completely.
  6. Hospice personnel know that patients and family members may not be familiar with hospice care and how it works. They work to assure that all concerned are well informed about the extent of care hospice offers.
  7. Although nurses and other staff are on call round-the-clock, hospices do not provide 24/7 care. In-home caregivers (including family members and home health care service providers) or nursing facility staff take care of patient needs on a day-to-day basis.
  8. Hospice care can include visits from a massage therapist who is trained to help address discomforts that typically affect hospice patients.
  9. Hospice volunteers are available to provide companionship to patients. They may read to them or simply visit and share a conversation.
  10. The hospice chaplain offers counsel to patients as well as to family members. He or she can offer ways to address grief, as necessary.
  11. Hospice does not accelerate or slow down the dying process. Its purpose is to allow patients to spend their final days living the best life possible.
  12. The hospice team will help guide caregivers through the final stages of the patient’s life.

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

You Can Quit Hospice

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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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/29778206@N04/3097490380, http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

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

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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.