Hospice is quality of life to the end | TheUnion.com

Hospice is quality of life to the end

You need to call Hospice” Those words strike fear in so many of us: Our loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and we don’t want to believe they will not get better. Calling Hospice seems to be surrendering to a fate we can’t accept, so we don’t make that call. We try and convince our selves that we don’t need to, that things will improve, our loved one won’t die. While we know in our hearts we are fighting a battle that cannot be won.

As Hospice founder Cicely Saunders said: “Hospice is not about death and dying, it’s about life and living.” Hospice is about providing our loved ones with the best possible care and comfort at the end of their life; it’s about making sure that their pain is managed and they can maintain their dignity.

At Hospice of the Foothills, we acknowledge that death is the natural end to the cycle of life. Our mission is to affirm life and promote dignity for the terminally ill by providing comprehensive and compassionate care to the patients, their loved ones and the community. We strive to fulfill our mission every day, for every patient, with a staff of dedicated professionals and volunteers. Some of the services Hospice provides:

Pain and symptom management – Our attending physician and nursing staff work closely with patients, their families and their attending physicians to control pain and alleviate any other symptoms.

Emotional and spiritual support – Hospice spiritual coordinators and counselors help patients and family members with their fears and anxieties.

Personal care – Home health aides help with bathing and personal care for patients.

Medications – Hospice provides prescription medications necessary for symptom management and pain relief as they relate to the terminal illness, at no cost to the patient.

Social services – Hospice social workers help with end-of-life tasks, financial issues and final arrangements.

Bereavement support – Family members can continue to rely on Hospice for support and counseling after their loved one has died.

Our staff and volunteers work with patients and family members to make sure that all medical, emotional and social needs are met. Our goal is to offer skilled and compassionate end-of-life care for the entire family, and we wouldn’t be able to do this without our remarkable group of volunteers. Volunteers come in and sit with Hospice patients, listen to their stories, look at their pictures and share their lives. They offer caregivers a break from the difficult tasks of caring for a dying loved one. We also have volunteers who offer their professional services to help patients: hairdressers, beauticians and massage therapists. After a patient dies, our volunteers are still there to support the family and help them through the grieving process.

At Hospice, our dedicated staff of trained professionals and volunteers works together as a team to bring quality end-of-life care to their patients. When a patient is referred to Hospice, we make an assessment of the patient’s needs and those of the family. We will do a medical evaluation in conjunction with the attending physician and order any necessary prescription medications, special medical equipment or physical therapies. We treat patients where ever they are living: at home, in a skilled nursing facility, an assisted living facility or a convalescent hospital. Our social workers will meet with the patient and family and discuss any nonmedical needs, such as financial assistance or help with insurance forms. A spiritual-care counselor will visit the patient and family and offer support. And of course, our volunteers are always there for patients and caregivers.

Hospice of the Foothills provides all these services without ever charging a fee to patients. We are a community based, nonprofit organization. We work with Medicare, Medical and private insurance plans, but you do not need to be insured to receive Hospice care. Hospice services are provided to anyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay. Donations from our generous community, revenue from Hospice Gift and Thrift shops and the outstanding fund-raising activities of Friends of Hospice help subsidize our services.

We all share some level of fear of dying; for some of us, the fear of dying alone or in pain is stronger than the fear of death itself. Let Hospice help you with this final journey; plan ahead and make sure your wishes for end-of-life care are known to both your family and your physician. Watching a loved one die can be a frightening experience; Hospice can help you through this process. If you have a loved who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, don’t be afraid to discuss Hospice care with them. Sometimes the greatest fears are the ones left unspoken.


Dennis Fournier is the executive director for Hospice of the Foothills. Call Hospice at 272-5739 for more information about Hospice services and eligibility requirements.

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