November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to shed light on the importance of both forms of care for families and communities.
Hospice care often gets misunderstood, but it plays a critical role in providing comfort and dignity to individuals in their final stages of life. It focuses on enhancing the quality of life, rather than prolonging it, ensuring that patients can spend their remaining time in a peaceful, supportive environment.
Advocating for hospice is advocating for a more compassionate, human-centered approach to end-of-life care, which acknowledges and respects the unique needs and experiences of each individual. It’s also advocating for a service that impacts not only the patients under its care but families and larger communities as well.
Learn more about how hospice impacts these groups.
What is hospice care?
Hospice care is end-of-life medical and emotional care for patients faced with terminal illnesses along with help and support for their caregivers.
How does hospice care help patients?
While under hospice care at the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis (VNA), patients receive access to a specially-trained interdisciplinary staff to deal with the symptoms and emotional needs at the end of life that includes nurses, hospice care aides, chaplains, social workers, and physicians.
They also receive additional volunteer support, both people and sometimes pets, to help with the stress and loneliness that can sometimes come with dealing with terminal illnesses.
RN care is also available 24 hours a day by phone and by visit if needed.
How does hospice care help families?
Hospice care provides invaluable support to caregivers, who are often loved ones of the patient and may experience significant emotional stress and physical exhaustion. The interdisciplinary hospice team offers professional care for the patient, relieving caregivers from the task of providing round-the-clock care. This allows caregivers to rest, minimizing the risk of burnout.
Hospice also offers training and resources to help caregivers understand their loved one’s condition and manage their symptoms, enabling them to contribute to the patient's care in an informed and confident manner.
The emotional support provided by hospice, including grief services, assists caregivers in managing their emotions and navigating the complexities of grief and loss. Hospice care not only focuses on the patient, but also encompasses a holistic approach to supporting caregivers during this challenging journey.
How does hospice care help communities?
Hospice care significantly benefits communities by filling a crucial gap in healthcare services and promoting a compassionate approach towards end-of-life care. On a broad scale, it acts as an educational resource, raising awareness about the importance of dignity and quality of life in terminal stages, and fostering a culture of empathy and understanding.
By offering bereavement care and support groups, hospice care extends its reach beyond immediate family members, assisting the larger community in dealing with loss and grief. This plays a crucial role in promoting mental health and resilience within the community.
Hospice care can get a bad reputation as our culture often doesn’t know how to cope with death, but the idea is that we can die in comfort and with dignity. We at VNA understand this and cater our services toward helping patients, caregivers, families, and communities not only cope but feel held given the circumstances.