Sharon Regional’s Hospice and Palliative Care Program and John XXIII Home in Hermitage are observing their one year anniversary of providing hospice and palliative care services to residents of the facility.
The relationship began when members of the John XXIII administrative team responded to requests from residents and their family members to have an option available for terminally ill residents.
Although John XXIII had successfully provided end of life care for years, the staff recognized that a formalized hospice and palliative care program offered a level of expertise and knowledge using a team approach across multiple disciplines that would complement the care provided by the facility.
This team approach allows the hospice program to utilize specially trained physicians, pharmacists, nurses, dietitians, counselors, clergy, and social workers to meet the unique challenges that terminally ill patients and their families face. These challenges include difficult symptom management issues, assistance with advanced care planning, understanding where patients are in the disease process along with expected outcomes, psychological distress, spiritual distress, helping patients define goals for their symptoms, helping with anticipatory grief before the death, and lastly bereavement care after a patient has died.
There are several criteria a patient must meet in order to be eligible for hospice services, including a terminal prognosis as determined by the patient’s physician and the hospice physician (six months or less if the disease continues on its expected course), acceptance of palliative or “comfort” care instead of curative care, and the understanding of the waiving of rights to standard insurance allowing hospice to provide all services related to the terminal diagnosis.
Hospice care does not just focus on the patient, but on the family and sometimes the staff as well. Families often struggle with watching a loved one decline, and need consistent education about what is happening and why, as well as emotional support and counseling. In addition, the staff at John XXIII has developed close relationships with the residents and their families through the ongoing care they’ve provided, and often are in need of additional support when a resident’s condition becomes terminal.
According to John XXIII administrator Kirk Hawthorne and director of nursing Jodi Shuchart, the relationship with Sharon Regional’s hospice program has been one of the utmost cooperation and collaboration in enhancing the end of life care for their residents. “The support from Sharon Regional’s hospice staff has certainly added to the quality of life for our residents,” Shuchart stated. Having hospice services available to the John XXIII staff has helped open the door to difficult conversations regarding end of life and symptom management to the residents and their family members. Attending physicians now recognize hospice as a “specialty” and feel comfortable allowing hospice to participate in a patient’s end of life care. The staff has also increased confidence in treating their residents’ challenging symptoms, and is extremely pleased with the prompt response time of the hospice team, which is typically within 15 minutes day or night.
Deborah Garrett, R.N., director of the Sharon Regional hospice program, expressed her thanks for the opportunity to work with John XXIII home. “It has truly been an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to work alongside such a caring and knowledgeable facility promoting the hospice mission for the residents of John XXIII Home,” Garrett said.
For more information on hospice and palliative care services at Sharon Regional call 724-983-3878.