When a person enters hospice care with Sanford Health, there is a team waiting to help them with services that include nursing, dietary, spiritual care, activities and more.
This interdisciplinary approach means caregivers get to know patients and their families on a deeper level, whether it’s in the patient’s home or at a hospice location.
And no matter what the situation is, care is tailored to each patient’s preferences. Support is also given to their family.
“A person isn’t their diagnosis. There’s a person underneath that disease process,” said Desirae Toomey, administrator for Sanford Hospice in Southeast South Dakota and Southwest Minnesota. “Care for the family is just as important as care for the individual, and it extends for 13 months after a hospice patient passes away.”
Family members receive grief support phone calls, mailings and any one-to-one support they need. They are also invited to yearly memorial services.
Many patients and families have told Toomey they wish they would have known about hospice sooner since it relieved so much stress. This motivates her to make sure people know the benefits of hospice care.
“I encourage people to think of hospice as a care option to stay in their own home and stay comfortable while living a good quality of life,” Toomey said.
Nursing and dietary services in hospice
Whether a hospice patient is in their own home or at a hospice location, they receive care from the nursing team for their physical well-being and symptom management.
Hospice care doesn’t use aggressive measures like tubes, diagnostics, chemotherapy, or surgical procedures, but it is highly skilled in providing palliative care via medications, equipment, wound care and exceptional nursing.
This exceptional nursing includes care coordination, handling patient priorities and managing the disease process. Each nurse focuses on providing comfort, maintaining nutrition and hydration, and assisting with functional disabilities.
The dietary team helps the nursing team deliver personalized care by providing consultation on what will best meet a patient’s needs.
Hospice offers spiritual care, too
In addition to physical care, hospice supports spiritual, emotional and social well-being.
“Research says those things are just as important as providing medications,” Toomey said. “When we care for someone in a holistic manner, it cares for them in a way that medicine would. It takes that whole team and all the different knowledge and background and expertise to be able to help someone reach the end of their life gracefully.”
Chaplains help the patient and family cope with emotional and spiritual issues. They provide spiritual care, such as actively listening, reading the Bible, sharing stories, praying and singing.
Activities and social services in hospice
Social and psychological well-being is strengthened by the activities and social services team. They care for patients by responding to emotional issues, talking through financial concerns, helping maintain appearance, supporting basic functions, addressing anxiety and fears, and supporting cognition and attention.
“Social workers are there to help patients find comfort and joy. Some patients want experiences like fishing, kayaking or going to the races. Some want to take a vacation or reconnect with a family member,” Toomey said. “This group gets individuals to open up and think about what is important to them.”
Whatever a hospice team member’s role, they work together to help patients get the best care.
This means staying attentive to the moment and remaining fully present, physically and emotionally.
“It’s a very personalized care team that serves patients,” said Toomey. “Everyone receives nursing care and then can choose to receive care from the other disciplines depending on what is important to them.”
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