What is Hospice
Hospice is about living, not about giving up hope or focusing on the inevitable. It is
a way to realistically deal with a terminal illness when curative treatment is not an option
or a choice, no longer to be pursued. Life’s final stages can be a time of comfort, growing
and sharing for families. Hospice is about quality of life and believes every patient has a
right to know exactly what is happening to them so they can make their own decisions in
the most respectful and meaningful ways. Hospice provides medical, spiritual and
emotional support to patients and their families while allowing patients to lead the way in
their own care. It is the goal of hospice to embrace every patient with dignity and comfort
as they complete this journey we call life.
How to Know When It’s Time for Hospice
The decision of whether or not to choose hospice care may be a tough one to make
but knowing that hospice can be discontinued at any time can make that decision easier.
At any time a patient decides they want to pursue further treatment or changes their mind
about their care, they can easily discontinue services.
It is important that a patient discuss their illness, their options and their wishes with
their provider and ask them if hospice care is appropriate. Some signs that it could
possibly be time for hospice include:
- Frequent or recurring infections
- Frequent trips to the emergency room
- Frequent hospitalizations
- Uncontrolled symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty or inability performing daily living tasks (bathing, getting dressed, eating, walking, etc.)
- Rapid decline in heath despite medical interventions
- Significant weight loss, loss of desire to eat
- Change in sleep patterns or increased sleeping
- Confusion or decreased alertness
Where Services Are Provided
Hospice is not a place to go to or stay, but rather a method of care brought to a
patient’s home (wherever they reside) by a compassionate team of qualified professionals.
We provide hospice care wherever the patient calls home – whether that is a private
residence, assisted living facility or a long-term care facility such as a nursing home.
The Interdisciplinary Team
Hospice is provided by an interdisciplinary team of professionals who work in
collaboration with the patient’s physician to care for the physical, psychosocial, spiritual
and bereavement needs of our patients and families. Instead of one person providing
your care, you will have access to the combined expertise of a team of health
professionals from several disciplines. With its many skills, the hospice team looks at your
situation holistically, considering not only your physical condition, but also your mind,
spirit, heart and soul. They develop an individualized plan of care that provides goals—
physically, emotionally and spiritually for the patient and family. Every team member who
works with you has a copy of your plan of care, which is continually updated throughout
your hospice experience. The plan of care is developed in close consultation with you and
your loved ones. Respecting the wishes of the patient and their loved ones is a bedrock
value of hospice care. Because end of life affects everyone involved, we treat you and
your loved ones as our combined focus of care providing your family members with the
same concern and attention to needed care that is given to the patient. This team
approach, which is unique to hospice, relieves much of the stress inherent in caring for a
loved one at home. As you and your loved ones face the hard choices ahead, you have the
comfort of knowing we are looking out for you and that you have access to a wide range of
knowledge, compassion and experience.
- Patient’s Attending Physician – The Hospice Patient chooses who they wish to be their attending or primary physician while in hospice care. This could be the physician that they’ve had a relationship with for years or their treating physician. The attending physician, along with the medical director certifies that the patient has a prognosis that qualifies them for hospice. Augusta Health Hospice works in collaboration with the attending physician to develop and carry out an appropriate, patient-centered plan of care.
- Medical Director – The Hospice Medical Director provides the initial terminal prognosis in agreement with the patient’s attending physician. The medical director attends care plan meetings and helps to develop and oversees the plan of care for the patient. He/she also performs face-to-face visits with hospice patients to assess ongoing eligibility for hospice as well as ensure the comfort of the patient. Nurse practitioners are part of our team under the direction of the medical director.
- Nurse – The Hospice Care Manager is a registered nurse who will manage your care and provide the complete spectrum of skilled nursing care. He/She will call frequently and make regular, scheduled visits to monitor the patient’s condition and clinical symptoms, manage pain and medications, treat wounds and ailments and collaborates with the physicians to guide the care of the patient. The Care Manager will answer questions and handle all of the important work of teaching family members how to care for the patient. Care Managers coordinate the work of the entire hospice team. Augusta Health Hospice also has nurses available 24/7 to assist with clinical needs, questions or concerns that arise between nursing visits.
- Social Worker – The social worker provides support with often changing emotional, social, spiritual and financial needs surrounding a terminal diagnosis. The social worker is an expert on community resources, and can facilitate direct counseling, family communication, recommend support for caregivers and help to find financial and legal assistance. The social worker can help with issues related to insurance, advanced directives or assist with making funeral arrangements. Social workers also play an important role in establishing bereavement support.
- Hospice Aide – The Hospice Aide tends to form a very close bond with the patient once he/she becomes involved. Our aides understand how difficult it is to accept help with personal care and they do their jobs with such professionalism, always keeping the patient’s dignity at the forefront of care. They help with various activities of daily living such as bathing, shaving, dressing, changing linens or tidying up a patient’s room. They are an integral part of our team and often serve as the eyes and ears of the team, recognizing and reporting status changes or symptoms of concern.
- Chaplain – The Hospice Chaplain is an experienced spiritual counselor with specific training to provide support for patients and families of all faiths and backgrounds. The chaplain is available to help patients, families and others work through any difficult personal, ethical and spiritual issues without judgment or pressure. The chaplain can provide counseling, prayer support, guidance in spiritual practices, assistance in planning religious or other ceremonies and/or can help locate someone from a particular faith background to work with the patient/ family. The patient or family can request the services of a chaplain at any time.
- Volunteer – Specially trained patient volunteers are an incredible resource to patients and families. Volunteers can provide various companionship services and in many cases provide a much needed respite break for caregivers for a few hours a week. Volunteers can assist with grocery shopping and running errands as well as some general support around the house (preparing meals, assistance with laundry, washing dishes, etc.) for patients that can no longer perform those duties. Augusta Health Hospice also has complementary service volunteers (as requested and available) to provide musical support, pet visitation, massage therapy, healing touch and Reiki. Complementary service volunteers are in high demand and sometimes have a waiting list.
- Bereavement Coordinator – Bereavement support and services are typically offered to family members and loved ones for thirteen months after the death of a hospice patient. These services include phone calls, mailings, individual counseling and support groups to help those dealing with the grieving process.
- Physical & Occupational Therapists – In the hospice setting, therapy services transition from a goal of improving or getting stronger to a goal of safer, more comfortable mobility and better quality of life. The main goal is often equipment training, safety with bed mobility and transfers and help identifying equipment the patient may need. Therapists can evaluate a patient’s ability to move around safely, determining what problems they have in doing so and can assist with various activities of daily living. They assist patients in maintaining functional abilities for as long as they possibly can and also provide caregiver education.
- Patient & Loved Ones – You and your loved ones are the key members of the team. You have chosen us to accompany you on a very special journey and we respect your concerns and desires at every step. We will provide you with all the information needed to make the best choices for you and your loved ones. The caregiver cares for you, the patient; the hospice team supports the patient and the caregiver.
Choosing the Right Hospice
- www.medicare.gov/care-compare – this website allows you to compare quality measures from varying hospice agencies to assist in making an informed decision
- We are one of the very few not-for-profit hospices serving this community – we began as a voluntary hospice originating in Waynesboro, VA in 1983
- We remain community focused and all fundraising and donations received go directly back to our services
- We care for and support each other as a team so that we can provide excellent and compassionate care to you and your family
- We care for patients of all ages
- We are hospital-based with admitting privileges to Augusta Health. When a patient needs to be hospitalized for respite or acute needs, they are able to be admitted to their local hospital and are able to receive a continuum of care
- We are in a position to coordinate services with our Augusta Health colleagues. Our team collaboration includes services provided by Care Home Medical and Augusta Health Prescription Services. Together with hospice, they assist in providing all of your hospice related equipment and prescription needs with delivery service to your home.
- We have a hospice house ( the Shenandoah House ) which is a 4 bedroom home for patients who are having acute symptoms that can’t be managed at home or for patients whose caregiver needs a respite break. The Shenandoah House is located on campus at Augusta Health.
- We have a robust volunteer program with many complementary patient services available upon request (pet visitation, hairdressers, musical support, massage therapists, Reiki and healing touch and volunteers willing to sit vigil when end of life draws near)
- We partner with National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the VA to offer a We Honor Veterans (WHV) program in an effort to recognize those patients that have served our country and respond appropriately to any unique needs they have at the end-of-life. We are currently a level three partner with this program.
- We offer bereavement services to families for 13 months following the death of the patient. Services include mailings, phone calls, support groups and visits as needed for grief support.
- We offer community bereavement services that are available at no charge to individuals or groups affected by grief that were not part of our hospice program. These services are available to local schools, our hospital, funeral homes, rescue squads, and any other group/person affected by grief, sometimes in a more tragic fashion.
- We are accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC).