Shortly after speaking to a room filled with people who were looking to hear about hospice and all the amazing things it can offer, a woman approached me and shared a wonderful story.
She talked about how an “adopted” grandmother that they cared for over the years, was “more than ecstatic to be placed on hospice.” Of course, this isn’t usually the kind of reaction I hear about, so intrigued, I asked for additional details.
She complied by stating that, “Hospice took such good care of her, spoiled her really. She had company all the time, and they made sure that she was not only comfortable, but that she had everything she needed. In her mind, hospice wasn’t something negative or something to be afraid of because she embraced it as ‘hospitality.’”
Of course I immediately had to stow this away for a new column because it just speaks so much to what those of us who work in the field of hospice already know, that it doesn’t have to be scary or filled with the “dismantling” of hope.
In fact, as many bereaved families often share with me, they felt not only were their loved ones taken care of, but that they were too. And that is the kind of hospitality I like to let others know about so that they can eventually see all of the gifts that hospice can provide at the end of life.
Perhaps it is all about perception and dispelling some myths, because some people, especially if they have experienced hospice services before, understand the amazing assistance that can be received during hospice care.
Others, those walking the hospice path for the very first time, only focus on what the word “hospice” means. Yes, hospice does signal that someone is terminal, and it is often a word that is used as death approaches. However, many simply don’t understand that it can be a benefit to you and your loved ones and that there are many individuals who receive hospice services for months, not weeks, days or even minutes.
In fact, the sooner hospice care is accepted, if the referral is early enough, studies show that an individual can actually live longer due to being able to provide comfort and quality care. Who knew?
But hospitality? I’m not sure many would associate this word with dying, but in reality, it absolutely can be due to the fact that staff within a hospice setting are focused on making sure that our loved ones are dying well.
Our goal is to provide comfort and open lines of communication as well as assist in the “getting our affairs in order” planning that is often forgotten about until death approaches. And yes, gentle touches, bedside chats and listening ears can provide some of the most amazing feelings within the hearts of someone who is dying because they appreciate that we are still celebrating their life and not focused on their dying.
Hospitality, by definition, means “welcoming someone into your home,” and with hospice, we do everything in our power to make sure wishes are fulfilled and all within the comfort of your own living space.
They say that, “Home is where the heart is” and as a member of a hospice team, it certainly feels like home when we are able to impact a family in a positive way and remind them that we are indeed “All about the Hospitality.”
Jenny Filush-Glaze is the bereavement coordinator at Hospice Compassus EAMC and is a licensed counselor. You can contact her at Jennifer.email@example.com.