Archive for Social Worker

Hospice Strangers at Your Door

It's like a crowd headed your way . . .

It’s like a crowd headed your way . . .

In 1989’s Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character famously heard, “If you build it, he will come.” If you haven’t seen the film, I won’t reveal the enigmatic “he” that eventually arrived at the baseball field built on an Iowa farm.

I usually recall the quote as “If you build it, they will come” . . . since crowds did gather at that heaven-like spot of the Midwest.

Field of Dreams was a sweet fantasy, but the reality of hospice means that many strangers will also arrive at your house. While hospice care happens away from a person’s residence, 58% (according to 2014 data) of all hospice patients remain in their homes and the “team” from hospice knocks on your front door. Part of hospice’s appeal is allowing people to continue living in the place they know best: home. For some families, that appeal is undermined by the flood of “strangers” from hospice phoning to make appointments and soon parking on your street.

If only it was one “he” that arrived at the busy “field” formally known as your lovely, quiet home!

First it may be the admitting nurse that visits. Maybe she or he actually came to the hospital, and they shared about the great things hospice will do. You heard hospice’s wonderful promise about the patient—your beloved—being able to return home. Where do you want to die? (Research I’ve read indicates 7 in 10 prefer home.) You may never see the admitting nurse again once you’ve agreed to hospice, but I hope it was a good experience. I hope she helped you understand the hospice benefits. I hope he was able to answer many of your pressing questions. Read More →

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Hospice and the Last Days

hospiceBelow is an overview of what it’s like when someone agrees to hospice care for her or his life-threatening illness. Spoiler alert: my description is intentionally optimistic.

This scenario assumes a patient will be supported by a hospice over several months. Maybe more. As I’ve written elsewhere, nearly a third of all hospice patients die within the first week. Though I understand why, I believe some wait longer than necessary to consider hospice. My hope is that a few find this “optimistic” sketch about the first (and last) days with hospice and make the hard, but equally likely good choice of seeking comfort care when a terminal illness forces you to ask . . .

How can I have the best quality of life in the last days of life?

Meeting the hospice team that will care for you and your family will be overwhelming . . .

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It’s bad enough you’re sick. But not just sick, since you have a terminal illness and your physician—maybe your friendly family doctor or a guy in a starched white lab coat who didn’t know your name without glancing at the chart—told you there are no more options for a cure.

Simply put, you are dying. Read More →

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Do What You Can Live With

adviceI avoid giving advice.

I enjoy giving advice.

Both statements are true.

Obviously, I spend considerable time in giving advice by posting regular essays about hospice. I want those considering hospice (for themselves or others) to have resources during this crucial time. I want to offer suggestions—through my questions or curiosity—for families currently served by hospice. Whether I write about odd medical terms or encourage honesty about dying and death, I hope my views (advice!) help at least one reader. Read More →

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