Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ensuring peaceful transition from earthly to heavenly home

From Tampa Bay Online:  Ensuring peaceful transition from earthly to heavenly home

Isaac Asimov wrote, "Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It is the transition that is troublesome."
Most people dread that transition — from life to death — and avoid talking about that topic. But it's worthy of discussion. Specifically, how do you want to live the final phase of your life, and who can help you with that transition?
Of course, most people think of their doctors, families and friends. But there also is a service available that can provide the care, support and comfort you will need when confronting a life-limiting illness or condition; that will deliver the equipment, medications and supplies directly to you to address symptoms and relieve pain; that will help you avoid unwanted hospitalizations and treatments.
That service is hospice, and during November's National Hospice Month, I'd like to help you understand how this important level of care can help you or a loved one.
Many people think hospice care is for the final few days or hours of life. But that's not the case. The mission of hospice is to enhance a person's quality of life in the time remaining.
But what does that actually mean?
In my two decades of providing hospice care, I've seen that take many forms. It can be hospice staff helping a patient to reunite with a longtime friend. It can be easing a family's burden by providing the guidance needed to cope with the emotional aspects of a life-limiting illness. And it can be the reassuring fact in knowing that loved ones will receive ongoing grief support after a patient's death.
At its core, hospice care takes a patient-centered approach to end-of-life care and provides a team of caregivers to deliver expert symptom management and provide reassuring guidance and encouraging support.
The hospice team consists of medical staff, nurses, social workers, chaplains, bereavement counselors, technicians and volunteers who work with each patient and family to chart a course of care that fits an individual's unique situation. The hospice team comes to a patient's home — whether that is a private residence, assisted living facility, nursing home or hospital.
And hospice provides the medications, equipment and supplies related to the hospice diagnosis.
I know that I speak for all hospice professionals when I say that it is an honor to care for our patients and families during a difficult and demanding time. We get such satisfaction when we hear that our expertise is valued and our care is appreciated, such as the family member who recently wrote, "What a kind-hearted, caring and compassionate nurse. She was knowledgeable, tender-hearted and kind as she guided us through the process of dying. Thank you for all you did to ease my mom's suffering as she transitioned to her heavenly home."
Frankly, it's natural to be sad and disappointed when you or a loved one is facing that transition to death. But it is a reality that we all must confront one day. You have a choice: You can deal with it alone, or you can get expert help that can make the transition as comfortable as possible.
I hope that when you find yourself facing the end of your life, you make that call to your local hospice organization. When you do, I can assure you that you and your loved ones will be greeted with the care and compassion you need to cope with a most uncertain time.
Kathy L. Fernandez is the president/CEO of Chapters Health System, the nonprofit parent organization of LifePath Hospice in Hillsborough County.

 

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