Making end of life decisions is stressful. Talk to your doctor and the hospice staff about how to navigate the next steps. The hospice and bereavement staff at Providence Hospital remind all the caregivers to keep a journal of daily questions and observations. Seek out bereavement support groups and talk with a chaplain. The grieving process happens early, once you learn of an end of life diagnosis. Hospice is about comfort care and that extends to the loved ones.
Covenant Care has a model for delivering compassionate end-of-life care to patients and families in the Gulf Coast region. Covenant and Providence worked together to create a home-like environment with 15 private rooms on the 11th floor of the hospital. It is the only dedicated hospital-based inpatient hospice center in southern Alabama.
When selecting hospice care look at program that offers quality compassionate care with the expertise of a medical director and staff who specialize in life-limiting illness, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support. The care plan should be personalized for your loved one’s needs and wishes and offer support to the family and caregivers.
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIH), there are many options for comfort care including what can be done for pain management at end-of-life. This video from the NIH gives the patient and caregivers good questions to ask the hospice team. Here are some other tips for common concerns:
Breathing problems – Shortness of breath is common. Keep the head of the bed elevated. Opening a window or using a humidifier and fan to help circulate air in the room helps to reduce the sensation of breathlessness.
Skin irritations – Sitting or lying in one position for long periods of time puts pressure on sensitive skin and may result in bed sores that need special wound care.
Feeding and digestive issues – Lose of appetite is common. Try offering small plates of favorite foods. Understand what the daily hydration (fluid) goals are to help with digestion and overall comfort.
Temperature sensitivity – The hospice patient may become desensitized to hot and cold. Look for signs like shivering or hunching of the shoulders. Then pull up the covers and look for a possible draft.
Fatigue – Extreme tiredness is typical. Identify energy-saving steps, devices or equipment to make the daily routine easier.
Hospice focuses on caring, not curing. There are many good models of hospice care -- in the home, at a freestanding hospice centers, or at a hospital. At an inpatient hospital-based hospice center, these patients typically need help managing pain and symptoms and need access to special hospital services.
“The inpatient hospice center at Providence Hospital in Mobile will help to relieve anxiety that families and patients who need access to these special services often encounter,” says Jeff Mesley, President and CEO, Covenant Care. “This center gives us the opportunity to combine our expertise and resources with one of the area’s leading healthcare providers (Providence Hospital).”
The Hospice Center is staffed 24/7 by Covenant’s interdisciplinary team of end-of-life specialists. Each patient room has comfortable seating and sleeping accommodations. They also provide unlimited visiting hours for family and loved ones. “Our partnership with Covenant Care will fulfill a significant unmet need in our community and is consistent with Providence’s longstanding commitment to palliative and hospice care,” said Todd Kennedy, Providence Hospital President.
For more information about the Covenant Hospice Center at Providence Hospital, Mobile, call 800-541-3072.