The hospice benefit is a multi-disciplinary approach to end of life care. When hospice patients are able to utilize the benefit, in its full capacity, self-fulfillment needs, psychological needs, and basic needs are met. At Hearts for Hospice, we seek to meet all levels of needs for each hospice patient in order to maximize their end of life journey and hospice benefit utilization. 180 days on hospice not only allows for better end of life transitions for patients, but allows family members to be family members and our team to become caregivers. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey.
Here are three honest truths about grief that everyone should know.
- Grief is forever. This is hard to hear, but vital to understand. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you will be able to adapt to and deal with your grief.
- It’s ok to not be ok. Grief is harsh, constant and overwhelming – especially at first. Let yourself feel those emotions and don’t be ashamed of it. Recognizing your grief allows you to be one step closer to conquering your journey with grief.
- Everyone grieves differently, so don’t be so hard on yourself. There is no one way to go about the grieving process. There are a lot of articles out there offering suggestions and remedies to help your grieving process, but it is important to find what works best for you. Simply because someone found relief in one method doesn’t mean you’ll experience the same result. Know that’s it’s ok to find comfort in things other may not understand.
Although the points discussed above were very raw and honest, here’s the good news: Although grief is tough and may not ever truly go away, it does change over time. Grief becomes a part of you, it mellows and, most importantly, it makes you stronger. Right now, you may think that what you’re feeling will never subside, but you will become genuinely happy again at some point. Life will go on.
We are celebrating nurses this month! Meet Natalie Smith and learn why she has a passion for nursing.
Springhill Home Health and Hospice nurse Natalie Smith shared stories of her nursing career and the successes and joys of her profession.
Four years into her nursing career, Natalie joined the Springhill Home Health and Hospice team. Nine years later, she is still dedicated to the company’s mission of serving patients and their families through hospice.
Natalie said being a hospice nurse means more than just taking care of the physical body of her patients. “Yes, we strive to provide as much physical comfort as possible, but it’s so much more than that. I personally love being able to step in and help a family who may not have felt comfortable or confident that they could provide the care their loved one needed,” she said. “We help support and reassure the family and provide them with the tools they need to adequately care for [a] family member or friend at such a difficult time in their life.”
She said that her ultimate goal with each family that she serves is to help them see end of life as a peaceful memory rather than a stressful event. When a loved one passes, Natalie’s hope is that their family will have peace and comfort from knowing that they fulfilled their family member’s wish to pass at home with their family by their side. “I love being able to provide that encouragement and reassurance,” she said.
Natalie said her very first hospice case management experience served as a guide for the rest of her time as a hospice nurse and made her “fall in love with hospice nursing”. Natalie said, “[My patient had extenuating circumstances] with minimal family support. His symptoms were extremely difficult to manage, and I felt like I spent most of my days with him. He did have a brother to step in and care for him, [but] he was not confident and was very overwhelmed. (I tried not to show it, but so was I!) I must have called our nurse practitioner a dozen times a day, but he was patient with me and educated me on every step [we should take], and [he] reassured me throughout the whole process. I learned just about everything I would ever see in hospice during that time. In the end the caregiver provided amazing care, the patient had a peaceful transition, and the family was at peace. I will never forget that experience. It was the most [stressed] I’ve ever felt, but the lessons I learned have stayed with me.”
What a joy to have nurses in the field who love the profession as Natalie does! Happy Nurses Week to Natalie, our Springhill Home Health and Hospice Nurses, and the nurses around the world who work tirelessly to provide compassionate care for patients and their families.
Volunteers are an essential part of a hospice team, participating in roles from directly interacting with patients to helping with fundraising efforts. Hospice volunteers often describe their work as purposeful, validating, and meaningful. Hospice volunteers are at the heart of every hospice operation and are valued greatly.
How Hospice Volunteers Serve
This is a huge part of what hospice volunteers do. These tasks can include: visiting with patients, reading, taking walks, helping communicate for patients, bringing in therapeutic items, or supervising therapeutic visits. This list is not all-encompassing, and volunteers can do so much more for the patients they work with.
Comforting Family Members
Volunteers can do anything from listening to family members, sitting with them, or helping them with simple tasks like running errands or taking care of family pets. They are also able to help family members have some time alone by sitting with patients while family members take a nap or walk.
Fundraising and Administrative Work
Volunteers can also help hospice organizations by using their skills in the office with administrative duties. Fundraising efforts can include helping with mailings, contacting donors, facilitating events or writing thank-you letters.
Special Skills and Interests
In addition to everything listed above, each volunteer has their own set of skills or interests that could be of use to the hospice they are volunteering for. This could include skills such as: landscaping, musicians, barbers, notaries, sewing, etc. If you feel that your local hospice could benefit from a skill you enjoy, reach out!
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with Springhill Home Health & Hospice, please reach out by contacting one of our offices near you today.
Due to COVID-19, more and more Americans are practicing social distancing. While working at home, schooling from home, and sheltering in place, it’s understandable to wish for a simpler time when you could leave the house or interact with others outside of your household without worry. With new recommendations from the White House to continue social distancing through at least April 30, it’s more important than ever add a variety of entertainment to your life to keep yourself from feeling stir crazy. Here is a list of activities to help pass the time at a socially responsible distance:
- Utilize social media and video apps to stay connected to friends and family. Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Zoom are all video options you can use to connect with your long-distance friends.
- Walk, jog, hike or bike outdoors (while practicing social distancing from others).
- Read your neighborhood forums to see what types of social-distancing activities they have in place. For example, many neighborhoods are participating in bear hunts, where community members place teddy bears in windows so that kids can look for and count bears during their walks.
- Take a virtual tour of the Yellowstone National Park: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm. Many parks, aquariums, and zoos are offering free online tours or virtual experiences at this time.
- Write letters to your friends, family, nursing homes, and first responders.
- Do some spring cleaning.
- Play cards, board games or do a puzzle with your immediate family.
- Cook dinner – make a pizza from scratch or try a recipe that you’ve never made before because it was time-consuming.
- Join an online book club or meet with your friends virtually to discuss a book.
- Take a nap.
- Watch a movie or your favorite TV series on Netflix.
- Dig out your old coloring books. Coloring isn’t just for kids!
- Call the elderly people in your life and check on them. This would be a great time to interview your grandparents to learn more about their lives.
- Make a photobook online by uploading your favorite pictures from this past year.
- Buy gift cards from your favorite local businesses to use after social-distancing ends.
Let’s make the best out of this current situation by staying positive and being responsible. Spread the love, not COVID-19!
A life-limiting illness is an incurable chronic disease or condition that no longer respond to curative treatments.
Examples of a life-limiting illness include:
- Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Heart Disease
- Pulmonary Disease
- Liver Disease
- End-stage Renal Disease
A life limiting illness, coupled with symptoms below, could be indicators of decline and hospice eligibility:
- Frequent hospitalizations, ER visits, or visits to the physician within the last six months
- Progressive weight loss (with consideration to weight gain factors such as edema, when applicable)
- Decreasing appetite
- Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing
- Increased weakness or fatigue
- Decline in cognitive status or functional abilities
- Increasing assistance needed with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
- Increasing pain or increasing difficulty in controlling pain
- Increasing dyspnea or shortness of breath
- Oxygen dependency
- Reoccurring infections
- Increased nausea and/or vomiting that is difficult to control
- A desire to forgo future hospitalizations
- A request to discontinue treatment
- Recurrent or frequent infections
- Skin breakdown
- A specific decline in condition
If you or a loved one has a life-limiting illness and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consider speaking to your physician about hospice services. You can also call Springhill Home Health & Hospice, and one of our team members can help guide you through the process of requesting hospice through your physician. Call Springhill Home Health and Hospice today at (251) 725-1268 (Mobile) or (251) 626-5895 (Baldwin).
Times of uncertainty often bring about reflection on our individual mission and purpose – our “why” in life. We all have a different “why” that has been formed through our passions and life experiences. Maybe your mission and purpose in life is teaching and mentoring the youth in your community, or maybe it is working in law enforcement to keep your community safe. Across the company, we are fortunate to have some of the healthcare industry’s most talented professionals whose “why” also aligns with our mission to provide first-class care to our patients and their families.
While we all adjust to changes in our daily lives, our employees are continuing to fulfill their commitment to our patients. From conducting music therapy in outdoor nursing home courtyards to providing meals for hospital staff and first responders, the current pandemic has even given us the opportunity to be creative in carrying out our mission.
As stated by Rosie Avila, Community Liaison at our Nurses in Touch location, “our purpose here is not for ourselves; it’s for others and in turn their purpose was for us.” This rings true throughout the company, and our employees are living out their mission and purpose every day.
What is your mission and purpose – your “why” in life? Perhaps it will be uncovered during these times. Perhaps it will align with ours. Perhaps it will provide an opportunity for us to partner in carrying out our missions to support our communities. We are all in this together! Springhill Home Health & Hospice is here for you.
That nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach. The worry that you just can’t shake. The anxiety that you’re feeling. It’s easy to recognize stress, fear, and worry. But at its core, these feelings of stress, fear, or worry could really be expressions of an even deeper emotion—grief.
During this time of uncertainty with COVID-19, we are grieving a loss of normalcy; a loss of safety; a loss of finances; a loss of health for people we love and care about deeply; a loss of milestone moments for our kids—graduations, proms, sports; a loss of connectivity to our family and friends; and a loss of events and regular activities that bring us together, allow us time to destress, or provide us with an escape from the daily grind. The list goes on and on with the challenges and changes that our new social distancing practices have put in place.
It’s okay to feel these emotions and to recognize your grief. Recognizing your grief does not diminish all that you are thankful for. For example, you can grieve a loss of work but still be thankful for your time with your family—time that you might never would have taken, otherwise. Or you can grieve the expectation that you are now an employee, parent, and teacher all in the same moment while still being thankful that your children are home safe and that you have a job. Grieving one does not lessen your joy of the other.
Seasons of life, even the really difficult ones, are not strictly one-sided or black and white. These moments are Bittersweet and point to the fact that something can be both bitter and sweet at the same time. Much like this, joy can exist, intertwine, and mingle right alongside our grief. We can feel the hurt and the loss, yet look around and find moments of joy, happiness and hope.
This bittersweet feeling is one that our patients and families often describe. A loss of independence, health, and ability to perform tasks that bring joy can cause grief, but periods of togetherness, closure, acceptance, and comfort can provide sweetness and enrichment to the lives of our patients and their families. Our staff feels this complex grief too – grief upon our patients’ passing but also a comfort and peace that our patients and their families found moments of joy during a difficult time.
In an article in the Harvard Business Review, grief expert David Kessler discussed these feelings of grief and how to combat those feelings. To summarize, he said:
- “Find balance in the things you’re thinking.” – Don’t just dwell in the worst-case scenarios. As it relates to the Coronavirus—think not just of the people who will be sick but also of all the people who will not because of our efforts to flatten the curve. As it relates to hospice – think not only of the passing of a loved one but also of the joy that your time with that person has added to your life.
- “Come into the present.” – In this present moment, your anticipatory thoughts are just that—thoughts, which may or may not come to fruition.
- “Let go of what you can’t control.”—Focus on what you can control. As it relates to the Coronavirus – practice social distancing, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face. As it relates to end of life– focus on what you can do, what you can enjoy, and what makes you happy.
- “Stock up on compassion.”—Fear and emotion manifest at pivotal times, such as a pandemic or at end of life. Recognize that a behavior may seem magnified out of fear. Give grace to those who behave out of character due to fear or emotion. Recognize them for who they typically are.
For the complete article from the Harvard Business Review, visit the link: https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief?fbclid=IwAR35_lZ8_xajIcqad-GfMTT6_Hcp_ytepXFah30uvVNMHnbri4RB6GmVPC4
The coronavirus, or COVID-19, is here in the United States and more people are getting sick, but the message remains the same: do not panic. We’re reminded of the safety briefing on a plane “if the oxygen masks drop down and we lose altitude, put your mask on and stay calm.” Not panicking is easier said than done for many of us. In fact, it is completely normal to panic when there is fear of catching a potentially deadly virus or fear of your plane going down.
Here are some tips and reminders on how to remain calm and help decrease your panic or anxiety:
- Start with grounding. Find the present moment by looking around at your surroundings. Exercise your five senses; what do you see, smell, hear, touch, feel?
- Listen to the experts. You’re not likely to get the virus, but if you do, you’re very likely to have mild or moderate symptoms. Live life as you normally would. Healthcare experts provide these practical tips for prevention against COVID-19 or other viruses:
– Wash your hand frequently and thoroughly
– Maintain a 3-6 foot distance in social situations with anyone who is coughing or sneezing
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
– Stay home if you are experiencing a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, and seek medical care.More advice is available online on the World Health International website: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
- Talk with others.When something is bothering you, talk about it. Tell your friends or spouse or partner “this virus makes me nervous.” Tell them why. Just talking about it helps.
- Be optimistic. Tell yourself, “everything is going to be OK. Most people are going to be just fine. I’ll be fine, too.”
- Use coping statements. “This is a bad virus, but we are going to be OK. This is temporary. I’ve been through bad things before and I can get through this. When the fear comes up, I’m going to acknowledge it and let it roll off my shoulder. I can handle it. I can deal with it. This too shall pass.”
- Practice good self-care. Eat healthy. Drink water. Exercise. Engage in your hobbies. Socialize. Nurture your spirit.
Our Continued Diligence to Patient Care
- Abode Healthcare has hired an infectious disease physician as an expert resource to help guide our decisions related to prevention and management of COVID-19.
- All employees of Abode Healthcare have been re-educated on infection control, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as effective handwashing techniques.
- Abode Healthcare has implemented new policies and procedures related to PPE and all medical equipment to decrease the potential for disease transmission.
- As a company, we have revised and implemented new ways for communication to take place within the leadership of our company to ensure that any and all important information is distributed, received and acted upon in a timely manner.
- Abode Healthcare has developed a national two-level screening process for our patients.
- Level one is a screening tool that is used for ALL of our patients.
- Level two is an enhanced screening tool that is implemented in areas where there are conﬁrmed cases of COVID-19.
- Nationwide, Abode has implemented a screening process that takes place daily for our employees to decrease the risk for any transmission of the disease.
- We have developed and implemented use of the Abode’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan, created speciﬁcally for our agency based on current recommendations from the CDC and the WHO.
- This is a dynamic tool that will we will continue to revise and adapt as the situation evolves.
- Abode Healthcare has secured necessary supplies for infection control practices as we continue to monitor and purchase more to effectively replenish our stocks.
- Each of our locations has performed a live “mock” training event across every Abode agency with all employees to review our plans, discuss our speciﬁc roles, and ensure that every employee feels conﬁdent during this time to continue to provide the best care to our patients.
- Conﬁdence and dedication to patient care is key!
- For patients being treated in Nursing Facilities with restricted access to outside visitors, we have implemented the following procedures:
- Abode Healthcare has developed a remote visit for visits other than nursing, that can be done via phone with the patient, the caregiver, and with a representative at the facility that can provide information to us in order to collaborate on their plan of care.
- Remote visits are available for social worker, chaplain, and music therapy visits.
- The patients, families, caregivers, and physicians will be updated of any changes to the frequency or type of services we are allowed to provide.
Our dedication to our patients and family members during this time of need is our focus. We are here. Please let us know how we can help assist in any way with any patient in need during this time.