Monthly Archives: March 2015

Addressing the Spiritual Needs of Hospice Patients

By R. Bruce Dalglish

The Alliance Hospice mission is, “is to understand and help guide our patients’ quest for a rewarding quality of life in their final days and to help their circle of family and friends support them in life and grieve for them in death. Alliance pledges to provide expert hospice care for the comfort and dignity of the terminally ill by addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. We strive to provide individuals facing death and grief expert care that provides a sense of personal worth.”

In our mission, we underscore the need to offer comfort and dignity to those in their end-of-life stage by attending to our patients’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs. These three areas of needs are very personal for each patient and family that we help, and we do our best to individualize our way of caring to meet these needs accordingly.

However, the notion of addressing spiritual needs is one that involves a deep level of thought. Understanding and assessing the spiritual needs of terminally-ill patients stems from the relationships that hospice staff cultivate and nurture. It is not uncommon for hospice care patients to seek spirituality and religion to help manage their feelings, even if they had not previously been religiously committed or affiliated. Sometimes, spirituality offers a degree of purpose that helps terminally-ill patients cope better during their end-of-life experience.

For patients seeking a deeper spiritual connection, there are hospice chaplains, or even their own religious leaders or clergy that can assist by spending time with them. At Alliance Hospice, we provide “Hospice Spiritual Care Coordinators” who provide non-denominational spiritual support to patients and families, and help with coordinating visits from local clergy if requested. Our hospice care staff help facilitate these needs while exercising a heightened degree of sensitivity to ensure the type of spiritual support that’s being sought.

About the Author 
R. Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

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Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

 

 

The Rewarding Feeling of Coordinating Volunteers for Hospice Patients

By R. Bruce Dalglish

It takes a unique village of high-quality professionals and caring human beings to ensure that Alliance Hospice provides and maintains an excellent level of care. Our patients deserve nothing less, and our dedicated staff are determined to assure that our patients are as comfortable as possible, and feel that they have a rewarding quality of life during their final days.

Jessica Harr, Volunteer Coordinator at Alliance Hospice, exudes that determination in her hands-on work with Alliance Hospice’s volunteers. In her own words, Jessica stated that, “Volunteers are the heart and soul of our service. They are kind generous people that provide love and care to our patients and their family members, as well as helping hands to our hard working staff. Alliance Hospice volunteers are our angels, and I feel truly blessed that it is my job to take care of the volunteers.”

Each and every day, Jessica observes the kindness of her volunteers firsthand. “I have witnessed a caregiver get the chance to go have lunch with her sister and their Red Hat ladies group for the first time in over a year,” described Jessica. “Those sisters came back after an hour and a half giggling like school girls! My volunteers and I looked at each other smiling and asked them why they didn’t stay longer. The wife replied that she didn’t want to take advantage. My volunteer then said that she would stay all day to see them smile and laugh like that. She is one my many volunteers who feels that volunteering is the best job she has ever had.”

This is just one of many examples of the meaningful volunteerism that Jessica helps nurture and foster, leading to a profound impact on our hospice patients. The reward involved in volunteering at Alliance Hospice is immeasurable for all involved – the patient, the family, our staff, and our wonderful volunteers.

About the Author 

Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

 

 

Spotlight on Alliance Hospice Volunteer – Joe Lewis

By R. Bruce Dalglish

It’s not too often that you encounter someone who has that rare selfless quality of committing their time to caring for patients during their end-of-life experience at hospice.   It takes a special kind of strength to invest time in taking care of people that you know are nearing their end-of-life, and nurturing a personal connection with them. At Alliance Hospice in Augusta, we are fortunate to have a very special volunteer by the name of Joe Lewis, who shares heartfelt compassion with our hospice patients.

Joe Lewis has been volunteering his time at Alliance Hospice for nearly four and half years. During that time, Joe has given the gift of compassion to dozens of hospice patients and their caregivers. After retiring from his career as a traveling engineer, Joe looked for something to do. His doctor, who was affiliated with Alliance Hospice, suggested that Joe explore volunteering at Alliance Hospice.

Since then, Joe has devoted much of his time caring for hospice patients. “When I read the bible to Alzheimer patients, I know that I reach them,” explains Joe. “One woman with end-stage Alzheimers was always in constant motion when awake. But when I would read the bible to her, she would settle down with her arms crossed over her chest and feel relaxed, and lay still listening.”

During his visits to nursing homes and personal homes, Joe reads to hospice patients who are not as aware, and connects on a meaningful level with patients in end-stages of illnesses who remain lucid. “Some of it tears at your heart, but I have several good rapports with patients that I speak with,” said Joe Lewis. “I sit and talk to them about the news, what’s been going on, what kind of work they did, things that happened in their lives, whatever makes them happy.”

Joe also provides a tremendous amount of much-needed relief to caregivers by staying with hospice patients for 2-3 hours at a time while their caregivers, often spouses or children, take a break.

Recently, Joe volunteered by helping a retired Baptist minister. “We’d sit and discuss the bible, different stories,” recalls Joe. “We had a good rapport there, it was kind of hard when he passed. He helped me more than I helped him.”

We are always in need of more kind-hearted volunteers like Joe to help us take care of our hospice patients, and I sincerely hope that Joe’s story will inspire others to lend a hand.

About the Author 

Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

 

Hospice Volunteers Make a Profound Impact

By R. Bruce Dalglish

It takes a very special kind of person to commit to volunteering their free time to helping patients, families and caregivers engaged in hospice care. At Alliance Hospice, we have ten very special working volunteers who are devoted to helping family members in need of some relief, and patients that are in need of some comfort and support.

Our volunteers have the opportunity to see 1-5 nursing home patients or in-home patients depending upon their availability, and each patient’s specific needs. The quality time that our volunteers devote is spent sharing stories, listening to stories, reading to patients, providing comfort and support, expressing prayer and devotion, helping with light housekeeping, assisting with writing letters, and relieving caregivers for short periods of time.

We are always looking to welcome new volunteers to our family at Alliance Hospice, and are especially seeking volunteers who can provide the following assistance: massage therapy, hairdressing, lawn care, music therapy, art therapy and pet therapy. Alliance Hospice greatly appreciates our wonderful volunteers and the incredibly meaningful impact they make.

About the Author
Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

 

 

Understanding and Navigating Pain Management

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Understanding and navigating pain management is a core component of hospice care. Indeed, the very philosophy of hospice care subscribes to the belief that people have the right to live as pain-free and comfortable as possible during their end-of-life. A majority of patients and their families/caregivers tend to hope and expect that hospice care teams will be completely devoted to ensuring pain relief.

At Alliance Hospice, an entire team of compassionate experts work closely with families and their loved ones to create and individualize an overall plan of care, integrated with pain management. A medical director oversees the medical plan of care and coordinates the hospice team, with ongoing input from the patient’s original physician focused on the medical aspect of the full course of treatment.

Alliance Hospice nurses provide palliative care with complete devotion, and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The nurses’ palliative care is nurturing in nature, committed to pain relief and comfort. In coordination with the patient’s physician, the nurses help determine what the most effective treatments and medications are for each patient to address both pain and symptoms. The nurses also regularly communicate with the patient’s family and caregivers to inform them of ways to help minimize their loved ones’ pain and provide as much loving support as possible.

It’s important to note that from a legal standpoint, hospices are required by federal guidelines to control patients’ pain through every reasonable effort, and many state laws also require hospices to ensure that pain management is prioritized as an integral aspect of hospice care.

About the Author 

Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

 

 

 

 

The Value of Grief Counseling

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Grieving the loss of a loved one as a result of a terminal illness takes time, and is a very personal experience that is different for everyone. As part of hospice care, there is meaningful value in grief counseling.

Experienced grief counselors can help families, caregivers and friends with ways to cope with the passing of a loved one. Indeed, mourning a loved one is an important part of the healing process, and grief counselors provide compassionate support to help people find their way in their own time.

Although mourning over a loved one is a very personal process, many people share common feelings and often find validation of some of their feelings during grief counseling. This type of counseling helps people move through the many phases of grief over a period of time, ultimately tapping into their inner-strength and coping mechanisms nurtured through the counseling sessions and resources.

At Alliance Hospice, grief counseling is offered to patients, family and friends at no charge. These helpful bereavement counseling services are available during the first 13 months following the patient’s death and include ongoing phone support, counseling visits, support groups, mailing and memorial services.

About the Author 

Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

 

What Happens to Loved Ones When Primary Caregivers Lose Steam?

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Taking care of a loved one with a terminal illness is not easy. Most caregivers become so immersed in focusing all of their attention on their loved ones, they frequently neglect their own personal needs eventually leading to burnout.

Burnout can materialized physically, emotionally and psychologically. With limited time to take care of themselves, these wonderfully dedicated caregivers end up losing sleep, eating foods of convenience rather than healthy food choices, not exercising, and simply not taking a moment to rest.

When primary caregivers lose steam, it not only deteriorates their own well-being, but it eventually takes a toll on the very loved ones that they’re caring for, and perhaps their immediate families, households, and jobs.

With an estimated 44 million Americans who act as caregivers for adult family members, there is a growing need for outreach to compassionate hospice care professionals who can help alleviate the pressure of caring for a loved one diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Loved ones often feel as though they are overburdening their caregiver, and are uncertain of how to reach out for the appropriate help that they need to address their physical, emotional and spiritual needs during their end-of-life stage. With hospice care as an option, patients tend to feel that they have gained a network of loving and compassionate support, and no longer have to feel consumed with common guilt of feeling like a burden, and causing their caregivers to lose steam. Hospice care services come in various options that are customized to meet the individual needs of the patient, caregiver and family to help alleviate the tremendous responsibility and emotional exhaustion often linked with caregiver burnout.

About the Author
Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.