Our hospice team provides patient care in a number of settings – from home to assisted living facilities to nursing or long-term care facilities. The team is made up of carefully selected and screened professionals that provide the same high quality care that physicians and patients alike have come to expect from Sentara. You can be confident that our staff treats patients and family members with the utmost of care and respect.
Services for physical, occupational and speech therapists and registered dietitian services are available with physician orders and if indicated as part of the plan of care.
Nurses help assess patient and family needs and coordinate patient care with other members of the interdisciplinary group. The hospice nurse will also make certain that necessary medical supplies and equipment are ordered. The nurse assists with symptom control and pain management and monitoring medications.
Regular communication between the nurse and the patient’s regular physician will ensure that the physician is aware of the patient’s status and that orders are being followed. Our hospice nurses anticipate needs and assist the patient and their family to better understand the natural progression of the illness, thus encouraging them to make a decision regarding the hospice care.
Home Health Aides
Home health aides are provided under the supervision of a nurse to hospice patients who have a need for personal care on a part-time basis. Home health aide visits are scheduled by the hospice nurse to meet the patient needs. Our hospice aides are experienced in caring for people with end-of-life care needs and have been carefully chosen to provide direct personal care.
Personal care provided by the hospice aide may include bathing, hair care, shaving, skin care, linen changes, catheter care and straightening the patient’s immediate surroundings. Our home health aides help with providing comfort measures and emotional support. They also help identify patient and family needs and report any changes in the patient’s condition to the appropriate team member.
Medical Social Workers
Facing a serious illness can be a time of tremendous pain and confusion for the patient and their family as they continually deal with emotions challenges throughout the time of the illness. A social worker is available to both the patient and family.
Our hospice social workers assess emotional, social, spiritual and financial needs of the patient and their family. They coordinate care with other members of the interdisciplinary group. Direct counseling and/or a referral to appropriate community resources are provided. Services that may be provided by the hospice social worker include:
- Providing emotional support, counseling and guidance to the patient and family in coping with stress related to the illness
- Identifying community resources available to help
- Assisting the patient and family with planning nursing home placement, funeral arrangements, etc.
- Offering information about Advance Care Planning
- Providing bereavement counseling to families, including up to 13 months of counseling after the passing of a loved one
Hospice spiritual care is based on a high respect for the patients’ and caregivers’ personal faith and belief. Sentara hospice pastoral care staff is available to assist patients and families cope with the significant spiritual issues that often arise during end-of-life care. Our hospice pastoral care staff does not impose their personal belief systems or seek to change the beliefs of others.
Pastoral care includes:
- Regular pastoral care visits and direct counseling to patients and/or their families
- Being on-call and available for crisis intervention
- Assisting with memorial service preparations
- Conducting funeral and memorial services as requested and contacting a patient’s own minister for additional support if desired
- Bereavement support
Family caregiving or informal caregiving by relatives and friends represents the key factor of hospice home care. Caregivers are involved in helping the hospice patient manage to carry out the tasks of daily living. This can be a turbulent, confusing and yet vital time because of the changes that take place physically, emotionally and spiritually. Caregiving is best accomplished when attention can be given to creating shared caregiving with those who can care for the person as well as each other. Appointing a primary caregiver who can coordinate the activities and communications is helpful. The hospice team is available to assist you in dealing with the demands of caregiving and offers some suggestions.
- Develop support systems for caregiving. Accept help from other family members, friends, church and community.
- As much as possible maintain a routine where there is a certain predictability to each day. Life then retains some familiar and reassuring qualities for both patient and caregiver.
- Preserve your strength and pace yourself. Eat nutritious food, get adequate rest and sleep. Exercise and some form of breaks are essential.
- Recognize that caregiving is an emotionally charged activity. There can be satisfaction in doing something significant for this person, often making possible the fulfillment of the wish to die at home. Through this process, new depths of love, understanding and appreciation between caregiver’s and loved ones can evolve.
- Recognize that caregiver’s often experience feelings of guilt, anger, fear, loneliness and depression and a sense that one’s life has been dislocated. Expecting that these are common feelings can help in dealing with them, but it is also important to seek social support in dealing with them. Talk with a sympathetic and concerned listener about your feelings.
Your hospice nurse, social worker and/or chaplain are available to help you think through caregiving issues.
Hospice volunteers offer terminally ill patients and their families comfort, support and companionship.