Music Therpy Benefits in Hospice Care

A Music Therapy Case Study | Joshua Gilbert, MT-BC

Throughout life, song can positively affect us both physically and emotionally. It influences bodily functions that we believe are beyond our control, such as heart rate, blood pressure and release of the body’s natural pain relief chemicals. Music therapy offers significant benefits for patients, caregivers and families. We offer it as part of our hospice services.

In a case study conducted (by Joshua Gilbert) on the impact of music therapy over a four-month period, with an older adult in hospice care, results exhibited significant signs of improvement in the following categories:

  • Quality of life
  • Self-esteem
  • Emotional expression
  • Breathing patterns

Through involvement in music-based interventions, these improvements allowed the patient to benefit from music therapy during hospice care. The patient often smiled, laughed and made positive comments about the music. After participating in deep breathing exercises and harmonica playing, the patient’s breathing became deeper and less labored. Additionally, the patient developed increased confidence in improvising harmonica music, and more open about expressing her emotions surrounding death.

Despite patient status or level of consciousness, music therapists can console and comfort them through music. Research has shown hearing is the last outside sensation that registers with a dying patient. Let us help your loved one make this experience more soothing.

To read the full case study, please click here.

Bridging The Gap

Allow us to add another layer to the health care dynamic!

Springhill Hospice’s psycho-social and spiritual team have always had a thoughtful and innovative delivery of care. Our approach is designed to meet the psycho-social needs of patients, families, and loved ones of those facing health challenges, especially during unconventional medial care protocols.

We would like to highlight how these needs are met with our current or new patients, as well as offer these services to any other patient or family in need as part of our community outreach.

  • Anticipatory Grief Support
  • Complicated Grief Support
  • Supplemental support for patient and family members
  • Remote/Telehealth Visits through shared technology
  • Facilitate virtual communication with patient and/or family

Providing supportive care by making a referral to our Bridging The Gap program is easy and confidential. A Springhill Hospice highly qualified social worker or chaplain will reach out to and connect with the family member or loved one who could benefit from additional support.

Additional Supportive Care is just a phone call away! Please call (251) 725-1268 and ask to speak to our Bridging The Gap coordinator to make your referral.

Common Hospice Diagnoses

Springhill Hospice is here for you – 24/7/365.

Choosing Hospice is often a difficult decision. We help lead this conversation and can ease the anxiety of the transition from cure to comfort for patients who are appropriate for hospice care. If two or more of these potential indicators are present, hospice should be considered.

Common Hospice Diagnoses

End Stages of: Cancer, Heart Disease/CHF, Pulmonary Disease/COPD, Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease, Neurological Disease/CVA, Renal Disease & Liver Disease.

If your loved one is requiring increased assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, grooming, oral care, toileting, transferring to their bed/chair, walking, eating, etc.; this may be an indicator that hospice should be considered.

Additional indicators include:

  • Muscle Loss/Weakening or Weakness
  • Multiple Falls
  • Multiple ER Visits/Hospitalizations
  • Recurrent/Multiple Infections
  • Altered Mental Status
  • Unintentional Mental Status
  • Unintentional Weight Loss
  • Difficulty at Mealtime
  • Increasing Shortness of Breath
  • Multiple Medication/Frequent Medication Changes
  • Sleeping Longer/Napping More
  • Skin Breakdown/Wounds
  • Other Diagnoses that Contribute to Decline

If you have questions about the hospice benefit or when to elect your benefit, please contact Springhill Hospice at 251-725-1268 (Mobile) · 251-626-5895 (Baldwin).

Making the Hospice Decision

Before a baby is born, planning around the baby’s life begins. The parents prepare for the baby by creating a registry. Friends plan and host a baby shower. Family helps decorate the nursery. As the baby grows, the parents teach the baby, now a child, how to read. They prepare the child for kindergarten, then elementary school, then middle school, and then high school. The child, now a young adult, decides on a trade school versus entering the work force directly after high school versus college, and if college is selected, the young adults selects a major, and prepares to earn a degree. Then the young adult applies for and accepts a job, decides to get married, and chooses when to start a family. He or she then decides how many children to have and how to raise those children.

We spend so much of our life preparing and planning—so why should it be any different when making a hospice decision? Ideally, from the start of a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, people should begin planning their goals and priorities with their physician. By having these conversations early, the person with a life-limiting illness can be fully involved in planning and making decisions regarding their wishes before the stress of a medical crisis.

Hospice is a continuation of care that shifts the goals of the patient from curative to comfort. When you or a loved one has a life-limiting illness and medical treatment is no longer effective, the doctor may refer you to hospice care. It should not be seen as a last resort but rather as an opportunity to focus on managing pain and other symptoms to find relief. This approach lets you dedicate your attention to what truly matters: living the rest of your life to the fullest.

A study by the National Palliative Care Organization found that patients who spent their final days on hospice reported having a better life experience than those who spent the end of their lives in intensive care. The researchers found that the patient’s choices often influenced the end-of-life care they got, which is why it is so important for people to plan for hospice, long before the need arises.

So, when should you make the hospice decision? Talk to your physician about signs and symptoms to consider prior to electing hospice care. Frequent hospitalizations, frequent infections, a decline in functional status, and an increase in uncontrollable symptoms or pain can all be indicators. Decide what you wish to do when treatment is no longer effective. Consider the benefits of managing symptoms from home rather than frequent visits to the physician or hospital. Consider the benefit of having a team of specialists available to you in your home—from a registered nurse to an aide, your doctor, a medical director, a social worker, and a chaplain. Consider access to your hospice team by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, where you could call your team if you had a question or a medical need. Consider the benefits of having medications related to your diagnosis and medical equipment made available to you in your home. These are all resources included in the Medicare hospice benefit, at no cost to the patient or their family.

If you have questions about the hospice benefit or when to elect your benefit, please contact Springhill Hospice at 251.725.1268 (Mobile) · 251.626.5895 (Baldwin) 

Our COVID-19 Response: A Letter from Our CEO Mike McMaude

To the Abode Healthcare Community,

I hope this note finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting each of us in different ways. As we navigate the current situation together, I want to provide an update on the steps we have taken to be there for our community, our employees, and our patients.

All of us at Abode Healthcare are focused on providing the highest quality of care to our patients. I provided an update at the end of March outlining the changes we implemented to prioritize safe patient care in this new environment. Every decision we have made, and continue to make, has been based on the priority of the health and wellbeing of our patients and employees.

I am deeply grateful for our employees who display incredible dedication by continuing to fulfill their commitment to our patients during this especially challenging time. These individuals, and everyone working on the frontlines of care, deserve to feel protected, confident, and taken care of.

In recent weeks we have made informed decisions and taken actions that ultimately support and benefit our entire community:

  • PPE: At the first sign of COVID-19, we prioritized spending where it’s needed most and to date, have purchased $1 million of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) so no one reported to work without protection. I’m proud to say that we’ve not had to turn down any patients due to lack of PPE. We’ve even been able to assist other homecare and hospice organizations, and hospitals serving the Navajo nation as well as other underserved populations, in providing supplies for their employees by donating thousands of PPE items. In addition to our company’s commitment, several executives on our team have made personal PPE donations for local health organizations so they can work safely.
  • Paid Leave: To support employees who risk their own health and safety to care for patients, we instituted a special paid-time-off policy modeled after the Families First Coronavirus Response Act designated for companies with fewer than 500 employees. In Abode’s plan, employees receive unlimited leave for issues relating to COVID-19, including a newly instituted emergency paid time off (EPTO) benefit that is in addition to the PTO employees accrue with regular benefits. These additional benefits allow employees to potentially recover from COVID-19, care for a family member who is ill with the virus, or care for children whose schools and daycares have closed.
  • Business Investment: Rather than cut back, we’ve leaned into the business to make sure that we are even better prepared to care for patients. Some of these actions include:
    • Building out our telehealth and remote care solutions
    • Retaining a dedicated, talented workforce
    • Hiring new employees and growing our team locally and nationally
    • Expanding our team’s knowledge with the addition of an infectious disease physician, Dr. Shannon Thorn
  • Charitable Donations: As we have every year, we continue to support charitable organizations in our communities. That will not stop just because of COVID-19. Support for neighbors, near and far, is needed now more than ever.

I am extremely proud of how everyone at Abode has reacted and handled the unique situation that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented. It’s difficult to adequately express my appreciation for our community—patients, employees, and partners. I have been reminded, once again, what an incredible organization we have—one that is driven by a common purpose of caring for, and serving, vulnerable patients. Every member of our team has come together to do what’s right, and I thank you. We look forward to continuing to work together and supporting each other through this challenging time.

Stay safe and healthy,

Mike

Hospice Care the Focuses on Quality of Life

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.

The Honest Truth About Grief

Here are three honest truths about grief that everyone should know.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Celebrating Nurses | Natalie Smith

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.

Volunteering with Hospice

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

Supporting Patients

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.

Safe Activities to Enjoy While Social Distancing

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Walk, jog, hike or bike outdoors (while practicing social distancing from others).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Write letters to your friends, family, nursing homes, and first responders.
  6. Do some spring cleaning.
  7. Play cards, board games or do a puzzle with your immediate family.
  8. Cook dinner – make a pizza from scratch or try a recipe that you’ve never made before because it was time-consuming.
  9. Join an online book club or meet with your friends virtually to discuss a book.
  10. Take a nap.
  11. Watch a movie or your favorite TV series on Netflix.
  12. Dig out your old coloring books. Coloring isn’t just for kids!
  13. 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.
  14. Make a photobook online by uploading your favorite pictures from this past year.
  15. 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!