For those facing a terminal illness, their last wishes often revolve around three simple things: family, comfort and home. The care and support hospice provides prioritizes these wishes so patients can pass in peace and on their own terms.
At Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, hospice is part of the continuum of care that the campus provides for its residents. Masonic Village Hospice also extends services to the community, within a 30-mile radius. This level of care is considered after an individual and his or her family decide to stop aggressive treatment of a terminal illness, in favor of focusing on the quality of life during the time the patient has left.
“We want patients to feel emotionally supported, have their symptoms managed, comfort maintained and their spiritual needs met,” Kristin Thomas, hospice’s supportive services coordinator, said.
Although advanced care may be a necessity for someone with a life-limiting illness, a hospital room is a seemingly undesirable and confining atmosphere to spend the last moments of life, especially when compared to the security of one’s own home. Masonic Village Hospice brings its 24/7 care to the comfort of patients’ homes and is paid for by Medicare or private insurance.
Care by Masonic Village Hospice is overseen by a registered nurse and a medical director, and accompanied by a staff of certified nurses’ aides, social workers, volunteers and spiritual resources, whose priority is to make the journey easier and more fulfilling for the patient and family. Together, they take on the role of alternate caregivers in helping patients complete daily tasks and lending a listening ear, so spouses, friends and family have a break.
“This means their spouse or loved one doesn’t have to be the primary caregiver for an hour or so,” Kristin said. “They can just focus on being a spouse or loved one.”
In addition to providing the necessary resources to manage pain and discomfort, hospice also focuses on granting last wishes and making lasting memories with families, rather than focusing on the end of life.
“There is a time and place for sadness and that kind of atmosphere, but our goal is to focus on the quality of a patient’s life and what we can do to make those last days special,” Kristin said.
Some of the wishes Masonic Village Hospice has granted for patients include family dinners, spa days, motorcycle and horseback rides and even final flights for patients who were once certified pilots.
It is a common misconception that placing a loved one in the hands of hospice is giving up on life and giving in to death. Instead, hospice is a celebration of life and thoughtful preparation for the end.
When the time comes for the patient to let go, hospice bereavement staff uplifts and supports friends and family through the grieving process. Masonic Village Hospice offers bereavement sessions in group and individual settings.
“We get a lot of ‘thank yous’ for anticipating what they didn’t know was coming next,” Kristin said.
Until experiencing hospice first-hand, many families are unaware that hospice is about more than just dying. The service combines top-notch medical care with a compassionate human touch, one that can have an impact on a family forever.