Voices of Care

Good Communication is Central to Good Hospice Experience

Posted on January 22, 2019 by Ted Baldwin

Good communication with the hospice team can bring family members peace of mind.

One of the hardest choices for adult children is entrusting an elderly parent to another’s care. It raises many questions, such as: Have I chosen the right facility? Does it have enough properly qualified staff? Is my parent receiving the proper blend of services? How can I monitor my parent’s care?

My sisters and I faced these questions recently. For several years, our parents lived together in the independent living section of a retirement community. Our mother’s health deteriorated to the point where she had to move to the skilled nursing unit. Her condition included the onset of dementia. Our father stayed in an independent living unit and was able to visit her daily. When he passed away suddenly (peacefully in his sleep at 101), our mother’s dementia accelerated. Her care manager explained that she needed more one-on-one attention, and recommended hospice with Care Dimensions.

Communicating with the hospice team

We quickly learned that one of Care Dimensions’ greatest benefits was improved communication regarding our mother’s condition and needs. We visited frequently, but could not observe all aspects of her situation. The Care Dimensions RN case manager, social worker, and hospice aide were able to provide frequent detailed updates, timely alerts regarding issues needing attention, and suggestions for approaches to address those issues. Their feedback greatly contributed to our peace of mind.

Visits from the Care Dimensions music therapist and chaplain provided her with extra social interaction that she clearly enjoyed. She would smile and nod her head in time with the music, and thank the chaplain for his thoughtfulness. As she had throughout her life, she put forward a polite and pleasant demeanor; the interactions were opportunities for her to reach back and behave in a way that was fundamental to her personality. When I went to see her, she frequently would recall that someone had visited; the visits clearly were memorable breaks in her routine.

The Care Dimensions hospice aide was attentive in ways that made a big difference in our mother’s quality of life. For example, she once reported that our mother was experiencing increased pain when being dressed, because of her tender skin and sore joints. She suggested that looser-fitting clothes would address this situation. I passed along the suggestion to one of my sisters, who bought more appropriate outfits. In addition to making our mother much more comfortable, the new wardrobe items were another bright spot in her life, since she always had been a bit of a “clothes horse.” The reduced pain also addressed her anxiety regarding clothes changes, which improved her interactions with the skilled nursing facility staff.

Hospice gave us peace of mind

We came to realize that hospice – as provided by Care Dimensions – was about much more than easing pain; it was about providing our mother with the best feasible quality of life.  All the hospice team members took their jobs seriously, paid close attention to our mother’s needs, and showed respect for her and the rest of our family. Their efforts provided us with peace of mind and reassurance that our mother was as safe, comfortable, and content as possible during the last year and half of her life.

 

Choosing hospice care is about choosing comfort care and quality of life. Learn more about Care Dimensions, the largest, most highly skilled hospice in Massachusetts.

 

About the author

Ted Baldwin recently retired from a career in environmental noise consulting. He and his wife live on an island in Narragansett Bay, RI.

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"Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts."