Experiencing Hospice First-Hand: My Journey with My Father at the End of His Life
It has been several weeks since my last blog post. I will share with you that my father, a World War II Veteran, a good husband, and good father passed away recently. He was 90 and a very good man. I truly appreciate the patience of the readers of this blog and the lovely sentiments from those who knew of this situation. However …
Within every difficulty, there are many blessings. One such blessing for my family during this time was CHI Health at Home Hospice Service. Through this very moving time with my father, I had the pleasure of meeting nurses, social workers, and home-health aides who were highly skilled and dedicated to taking care of my dad (and me, too!). Like many of you reading this, I had heard of hospice, but never had the experience of working directly with such an organization on such a personal and intimate level. It was an amazing – but not necessarily easy – journey.
During this journey, I met with Nancy Gardiner, Client Relations Executive for Health at Home Hospice care program for CHI Health. Nancy shared some really interesting information about how hospice started in this country in the first place. Did you know that hospice originally was an all-volunteer program of nurses and doctors? Did you know that in the early 1980s, Medicare began to recognize the value of hospice services and agreed to pay for those services? Did you know that statistics point out that the grief process is considerably better managed with hospice care than without?
Nancy further explained that being board certified in pain management helps both the patient and the family members. The caregivers, certified in this type of work, are highly trained to recognize when pain levels are increasing and then take action – knowing just what to do for the patient to increase their comfort. This, naturally, helps the family too – as they see their loved one more comfortable, more relaxed, and less anxious. Hospice providers offer other services as well. For example, along with pain management to increase comfort, hospice services through ACH provide:
- Touch therapy
- Music support
- Pet therapy
- Spiritual and emotional support – including a recording of life stories
- No One Dies Alone program
- Ongoing support for loved ones for the next year
Every family and every family situation is different – so these services are gently offered, but certainly not mandatory. The professionals within ACH’s Health at Home Hospice are well prepared and trained to support the loved one and their family with these options specific to their needs. One of the brochures that ACH Hospice offers talks about providing a “gentle, knowledgeable presence” to help with reducing anxiety, stress, and family concerns.
ACH Hospice can offer much-needed support to families and their loved ones with their “gentle, knowledgeable presence.” One very important piece that Nancy offered as we were ending our conversation together is that she would like to see patients and their families experience the full benefit of ACH’s Hospice program by connecting with these services sooner rather than later. She strongly encouraged readers to call ACH Health at Home Hospice to consult with one of the knowledgeable staff members to see if home health services or hospice was right for their loved one and family.
In this blog, I realize I am writing from two perspectives – one as a mental-health provider who sees the value in connecting with CHI Health during all aspects of life, and one of a daughter whose family needed to connect with ACH Hospice for a beloved family member.
If you have more questions or need more information about ACH Health at Home and Hospice services, please feel free to call them directly at (402) 898-8000.
I know they will be more than happy to help answer your questions, offer options, and help you and your family know if hospice is right for you and your loved ones.
Thanks for reading this blog. As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can contact me directly through the comment section attached to the blog. I promise to respond!!
Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.