One of many myths about choosing Hospice is that it means giving up hope. The reality is that in Hospice the hope for living each day to the fullest becomes the focus.
Sally Habermehl, who is the new Director of Home Services for Northwest Colorado Health, has been with the agency for more than 25 years. She has seen first-hand the impact that Hospice has on our neighbors, and the community as a whole, in ensuring that everyone receives the compassionate care that they need at the end of life.
“Our Hospice nurses often get called ‘guardian angels,’” said Habermehl. “I have had several people come up to me and say ‘if I ever had to go on Hospice – I would want your nurses’. We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful team of nurses, social workers, chaplains, therapists and aids in our Hospice program. They all care deeply and are willing to go the extra mile to help patients as they transition through the end stage of life.”
While many believe that Hospice is only for the last days of life, patients and families can receive Hospice care for 6 months or longer. Research has shown that entering Hospice earlier rather than later in the course of illness has many advantages for the patient, and loved ones.
- Better pain and symptom control. When Hospice staff have more time to provide care for the patient, they can provide individualized management of pain and other symptoms offering as much relief and comfort as possible.
- Improved quality of life. Hospice care focuses on the wellbeing of the whole patient. There is greater opportunity to focus on what matters most in life, offering more quality time with loved ones.
- Access to helpful medical supplies and equipment. A hospital bed, commode or wheelchair help caregivers cope with the increasing needs of their loved ones.
- Fewer hospital and ICU admissions. Patients admitted to Hospice earlier in the course of illness are much less likely to go to a hospital or ICU in a state of crisis. They are more likely to die at home surrounded by loved ones.
- More days of life. Studies have shown that Hospice patients live longer than those with a similar diagnosis who do not receive Hospice care.
- Bereavement support for patient and family. Grief counseling for caregivers and patients allows them to work through emotional issues before death occurs and find peace in their final days. Support for families continues after the death of a loved one.
“Hospice is about the quality of life that exists in the process of dying,” said Jo Anne Grace, Spiritual Care and Bereavement Coordinator with Northwest Colorado Health’s Hospice program. “When we have time to establish a network of support around a patient and family, we are able to encourage final wishes and pinpoint what that person wants to accomplish before they die. Hospice allows family members a respite from 24/7 caregiving so they can re-establish a relationship with their loved one not focused on duty. They are able to relax from their role and instead focus on just being with their loved one.”
Northwest Colorado Health has provided comfort-oriented end-of-life Hospice care in the Yampa Valley for nearly 30 years. As a non-profit Hospice provider, Northwest Colorado Health provides care to all residents who need it, regardless of their ability to pay. Although health insurance may cover Hospice, expenses such as medications, equipment and bereavement support often exceed reimbursement. Donations and fundraising events like the Rubber Ducky Race for Hospice help cover this gap.
The Craig Rubber Ducky Race for Hospice is an opportunity for Moffat County residents to support this service in their communities. The race will take place on August 5 at the Moffat County Hot Air Balloon Festival starting at 11:30am. Tickets are only $10 and offer a chance to win cash and other prizes. Purchase tickets today at northwestcoloradohealth.org/rubberducky.
To learn more about Northwest Colorado Health’s Hospice program, visit northwestcoloradohealth.org/hospice or call 970-871-7629. Northwest Colorado Health is currently hiring for multiple positions within the Home Services Department, including Registered Nurses for Home Health and Hospice. Please visit our website to learn more and apply.