Hospice often gets a bad rap, and to be honest as recently as two months ago, I was on the fence. Our first experience was not a good one. However, after much thought, I decided we would try again with a different company.
I was very cautious as we moved forward, but the experience was quite different the second time around. This time, we were truly partners in Mom’s care. From the very first meeting, the staff listened and respected our wishes, while gently making recommendations along the way.
Change of Direction
As it turned out, the home visits lasted only about a week before there was no question we needed around the clock nursing. While I had originally held firm about not moving her, I knew our choices were limited. The decision had to be made; we would take her to the inpatient facility on a temporary basis and try to get her meds adjusted to a point where we could relieve the agitation, but still keep her awake. At that point, she would return home.
Kobacker House was beautiful, and could have easily been mistaken from the outside for a rustic lodge. Inside, the building was just as lovely and there was something very peaceful, almost spiritual, about it. The staff carefully tweaked meds for several days before it became apparent that the plan wasn’t working. We quietly shifted from a goal of reducing agitation to a goal of simply providing comfort.
Caring For the Entire Family
Knowing there were nurses right outside our door provided such peace of mind; there was no more questioning whether we should make a phone call. Everything and everyone we needed was right there. The staff was like nothing I had ever experienced in a medical facility. They took their time, sat and talked with us, answered questions, and actually listened. They were focused on my mom, but were also concerned with our wellbeing – both physically and emotionally – as family caregivers.
The gentle care they gave my mother was incredible. Each day, they would bathe her, apply lightly scented lotion, comb her hair, and put her in a fresh pretty nightgown – there wasn’t a hospital gown in sight. That might seem like a small thing, but it made a huge difference during this very difficult time. I’ll always remember the way they would carefully adjust the little heart on her necklace to sit perfectly in the center of her chest each time they moved her. They took great care to turn her at regular intervals, and check on all of us often. I don’t think there was a single time a member of the staff came in to check on Mom that they didn’t also ask if there was anything they could get for us. They were truly heaven sent.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like to try and keep her at home through the end. She went through so many changes those last few days; we would have been uncertain and scared, on top of exhausted and wracked with emotion. In our case, 24/7 nursing was a necessity in order to keep her comfortable and be assured that we were doing the right things.
I’m a Believer
I am forever grateful for everything they did for my mom and for our family. I firmly believe that her peaceful transition was due in large part to the calm, quiet surroundings and the care that only hospice-trained professionals could have provided. Those nurses, doctors, and aides have a special calling; not everyone can do what they do.
As I said, I was skeptical after our first experience, but I’m now a strong proponent of the modern hospice model. The key is finding the organization that is right for your family; for us, it was the people who made all the difference in the world. Comfort, compassion, and love – it’s their specialty.
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