Hospice is a wonderful option for the terminally ill….
We recently had a hospice company come in and talk to us about what they do. While I have never had the desire to WORK in hospice as an occupational therapist (I have boundary issues), I have always been fascinated by the concept, and have read several books by hospice volunteers, just out of curiosity. One of my classmates, Virginia, actually is volunteering for hospice this semester, and several other classmates, Kerri and Joe, have served as hospice volunteers in the past.
Some of the highlights of the hospice lecture, based on my understanding, that I hadn't fully realized or hadn't mentally articulated very well:
*The two greatest fears of most terminally ill people are dying in pain and/or dying alone.
*There is not a cost to patient or family – insurances cover it.
*It focuses on caring, not curing – no more aggressive treatment, just comfort measures.
*Care can be in a nursing home or other such places, not just in the real home
*Near the very end of life, the person no longer has any need or ability to handle food and water. In the Terri Schiavo case, there was a lot of talk of how she was starved to death…that is not true – her organs were shutting down and did not need that food.
My grandfather was in hospice before he died, and it was a good experience for my family, from what I heard.
My friend Arnie wrote the following:
Hospice has been a Godsend for me twice.
When my mother was dying in late 1996, I called Hospice to attend to her in her Assisted Living facility. They ensured that mom was kept comfortable during her final days/hours.
When my wife Nancy was near death from leukemia in 2003, I arranged for her to spend her last night at Alive Hospice in Nashville. We had discussed this a few weeks earlier while she was still coherent. Her first choice was to die at home, but she agreed that I should move her to the Hospice facility if it became impossible for me to safely care for her alone at home. She spent less than 24 hours there before completing her transition.
I cannot say enough about the Hospice staff. They are true angels of mercy.
And oh yeah – this is relevant to OTs because they can WORK in hospice, although again, they are primarily there to help with comfort measures – things like positioning, and relaxation techniques for caregivers, stuff like that. 🙂