Truth is, with the elder needs of our culture growing by leaps and bounds, there will always be a need for hospice care, and I’ve seen some of the best care provided by skillful, intelligent, patient, kind men and women. One man I knew passed away in a hospice care community the day I visited him, and had told him the best stories about his life that I had come to know. He was peaceful and comfortable. One woman I cared for gently sailed away right before I arrived at her room. Her grand-daughter almost cancelled a lifetime trip for her family to stay with her, but went because she trusted the care of the hospice group. This grand-daughter was on the phone with her, telling her she loved her, as she passed. It was golden and dear.
There was a recent article in the Washington Post describing some very poor care practices in some hospices in America. But lean in here: it is a family member or friend’s job to ask questions, to ask for better results, to advocate for the loved one receiving care. It’s like recommending a restaurant, service, doctor; you share with friends the ones who are good at serving people, right? We can raise the quality of a hospice’s ability to care by being present, by phone or otherwise, and by providing those volunteers with photos, songs, and stories of the person’s life to remind them that this is a *person first,* a valuable human being who deserves respect and the very best care. And, doing this invites that hospice person to join the family, and he or she might become family to you more than your biological family in some cases. Help them join you in caring for your loved one.
We all have to take responsibility to partner with those who can support our loved ones at the time of his or her passing. Please do.