Hospice Care: Care Team

 

Being there for you

Under the direction of your primary doctor, our care team provides a coordinated care plan for you and your loved ones. Hospice care services are provided to adults in their homes, at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital, nursing facilities and at assisted living communities. We have the experts you need to ensure you and your family gets through this challenging time.

You and your family have a team of skilled and compassionate caregivers to help provide your hospice care. Our care team includes hospice doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, chaplains, grief counselors for children and adults, music therapists, massage therapists, social workers and other experts specializing in hospice care.

Your hospice team focuses on relieving your physical symptoms, such as pain or nausea, and helping you to feel as comfortable as possible. We also provide support to you and your family for emotional and spiritual needs often brought about by a life limiting illness.

Members of the care team
The following information will help you to understand more about the various individuals on the hospice team and their roles and responsibilities.

Primary doctor – Your primary doctor will continue to be your doctor. Frequent and direct communication will occur between your hospice team and your primary doctor. Your primary doctor may be your primary care doctor or a specialist, such as a cardiologist, pulmonologist, oncologist or nephrologist.

Hospice doctor – As part of the hospice team, this specially trained doctor is certified in the specialty of hospice medicine. Your hospice doctor is readily available to your hospice nurse and your primary doctor.

"To be invited into patients’ homes and to sit with them and their loved ones during life’s final journey is a profound experience. Patients and their families constantly amaze me in their courage, love for each other, creativity, determination and what remarkable lives they have led. As a hospice physician, my role is to help with this journey in any way I can to make it easier for patients and their loved ones."
   ~ Steven Duane, MD, Hospice Doctor

Nurse – Your hospice nurse is the main person who follows your physical health, coordinates your day-to-day care with other members of the team and talks to your doctor about any changes or medication needs. Your nurse will help you to:

  • Answer your questions so you understand what is happening physically and what may happen next
  • Manage any pain or symptoms you may experience
  • Teach you and your caregivers about your medications, specific care techniques, special medical equipment and safety concerns.

Social worker – Your social worker provides emotional support to help you cope with the impact of your illness, as well as identifies community resources for services hospice may not provide. Your social worker will visit regularly and as needed for:

  • Individual or family support and counseling through one-on-one visits, family meetings and care conferences
  • Information about support groups for family, young children and friends
  • Help with minor legal, insurance and financial resources, including assistance with Veterans Affairs benefits and the Family Medical Leave Act
  • Help with advance care planning
  • Help arranging additional hospice services, such as music or massage therapy, or community resources, such as Meals On Wheels or Medical Alert Program
  • Help finding private caregivers to hire at home or a private care facility

Spiritual counselor – A counselor (also known as a chaplain) is available for scheduled visits or as needed to provide individual and family spiritual support. Regardless of your religious or cultural background, or even if you’re not religious in a traditional sense, your spiritual counselor can help provide an opportunity to talk about your life experiences and spiritual aspects of illness and dying, including end-of-life rituals important to you. This counselor can contact clergy or spiritual counselors from your faith community on your behalf. The hospice counselor also may be helpful in planning or conducting your memorial or funeral service, or whatever your wishes are.

Grief counselor – Specially trained counselors provide support and guidance for you and your family before and after your death. Bereavement services include individual counseling, classes about grief, grief support groups, telephone reassurance calls and referrals to mental health professionals in the community.

"I think the spiritual and grief counselor saved my life. I truly believe that."
   ~ Mike, whose wife was in Hospice

Hospice aide – Your hospice aide can provide support for routine personal care, such as bathing, nail care, oral hygiene, dressing and eating. The extra support hospice aides provide can relieve family caregivers and improve safety.

Therapists – Various therapists are available to you and your family to promote well-being, relaxation and enjoyment, and reduce stress and anxiety. Integrative therapy services provide added resources to help you manage symptoms and feel comfortable. These therapies focus on your mind and spirit as well as your body. Therapies provided include:

  • Massage therapy – Massage therapy can help to reduce stress and pain and provide comfort by using gentle and firm touch – most often to your shoulders, neck, back, arms and legs. The hospice massage therapist will listen to you to understand your needs and preferences. You may have very specific areas you would like massaged or your needs may be more general. You may receive massage therapy in your favorite chair or in bed, wherever you are most comfortable. Massage therapy also is available for family caregivers.
  • Music therapy – Led by a music therapist, sessions using live music help provide comfort from pain and anxiety, create an enjoyable experience to hear favorite songs and allow meaningful expression of memories, thoughts and feelings. Family caregivers and friends also may participate.

Your hospice team may recommend additional services or therapies, including nutrition counseling, speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Volunteers – Specially trained volunteers, including individuals who have been through the hospice experience and the loss of a loved one, provide a variety of services, including:

  • Listening
  • Companionship
  • Relieving family caregivers
  • Running errands
  • Doing simple household tasks and preparing simple meals
  • Spending time with children doing various activities, such as reading stories or taking them to a park or a movie
  • Bringing pets to visit

"The hospice staff were genuine in their concern and empathetic to the needs of the dying and the living. The professionalism of the team and their calm demeanor added to the notion that the dying process is a natural one and as such, it is to be respected, not feared."
   ~ Todd, whose parent was in Hospice

 

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