The benefits of hospice care will vary for each patient. Benefits may include medical and social services, nursing aides, homemaker services, counseling, medications for pain and managing the disease, and therapies ranging from physical to speech.
What are the benefits of hospice care?
Roles of the hospice care team include, but are not limited to:
- Managing patient pain and other symptoms
- Providing medications and medical devices
- Instructing the family on caring for their family member
- Delivering services such as speech and physical therapy
- Providing inpatient care when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or when the caregiver needs respite time
- Assisting the patient and family members with the emotional, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying
- Providing grief support and counseling to the family
Another important part of the hospice team is volunteers. Volunteers provide friendly visits, performing tasks that are important to the patient or family and providing relief for the primary caregiver. Volunteers sit with a patient who cannot be alone while caregivers run errands or take a nap. Ask a hospice organization about the specific services volunteers perform. Here is a list of services mentioned by hospice care professionals in NH and VT:
- Transportation to appointments
- Preparing meals for delivery
- In-office clerical support
- Delivering flowers to patients
- Household tasks such as laundry or cleaning for patients or family members
- Watering plants or gardening
- Utilizing their skills, such as performing massage on patients
- Singing, playing an instrument
- Simply being there for comfort and companionship
Hospice administrators work closely with their organization’s volunteer coordinators on special requests or ideas. Part of hospice is allowing patients to live their fullest life.
VNA of Manchester and Southern, NH Inc. has a team of sewing volunteers constructing items including clothing protectors (two-sided, Velcro and lots of fun patterns!), walker bags for carrying items such as magazines and tissues and activity pillows for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease patients. Those pillows feature buttons, snaps, zippers, bows and more to ease and calm patients.
Here’s an example from Concord Regional Visiting Nurse Association of how a volunteer used an existing skill to bring joy to a patient:
“This patient had gorgeous rose gardens. One reason for her sadness was she could no longer tend her roses. I called our volunteer coordinator, and she found someone to go to this woman’s home. When I visited, I could hear them in the garden, laughing. She was in her wheelchair and she directed the volunteer where to prune. They had a beautiful relationship.”
The focus for hospice caregivers is not on how to help someone die, but how to help patients live their best life for their remaining days. Hospice professionals and volunteers make the best experiences possible with a patient’s remaining time.