VNA Hospice of Greater Lowell

When a cure is no longer possible, our VNA Hospice program continues to heal.

It meant so much to my children and myself that he was able to die, as he had lived, with dignity.
What is Hospice?

Hospice is a philosophy of care and a way of caring that focuses on the needs of both the patient and the family during the last six months of life.

When I thought I couldn't handle watching my dad die, they gave me the support I needed. They listened to our feelings and understood our pain. Because of Hospice I was able to grant my father his last wish of dying at home.

When is Hospice care appropriate?

Hospice care is appropriate when aggressive treatment is no longer effective, and the plan of care is refocused to pain management, symptom control, emotional and spiritual comfort and information and support for families.

Sometimes, when I got scared and unsure of my caregiving, the nurse would sit and talk to me and it gave me the confidence to go on. Home is where my husband wanted to be, and with the Hospice program it was possible. When he died, he was at home with a room full of family and friends, not in a cold, bleak room alone! If every patient and family receives the care and attention that our family was fortunate enough to receive, then they will be truly blessed.

How is Hospice care delivered?

The VNA Hospice team comes to the patient's place of residence to meet the medical, emotional, spiritual and practical needs of the patient and family. By working with the primary caregiver(s), VNA Hospice has enabled many patients to stay in the comfort of their homes, among family and friends, during this very precious time of life.

I appreciated Hospice's willingness to work with us, and allow Jim and me to make decisions for him, listening our suggestions, helping to control his pain, respecting our preferences, working with us to keep Jim out of the hospital, enabling him to die among family and dear friends. Hospice was helpful, supportive, informative, willing, timely, sensitive. They did their job, which was to keep Jim as comfortable as possible so that his desire to live out his life in his own home, among those he loved so dearly and those who so dearly loved him, could be achieved. Was it easy? No - it was extremely difficult at times. We cried together, and our grandchildren cried with "Pop," but they participated in a real process of life-ending. Jim died in my arms. What a blessing for both of us!

The VNA Hospice team includes nurses, therapists, medical social workers, home health aides, spiritual counselors, bereavement counselors and volunteers. The team works closely with the attending physician.

The Hospice team visited everyday and would explain to me how to give him his medications and they were very caring, which lessened my burden and gave me the confidence to care for him. When his medications needed changing, they kept in constant contact with the doctors. The whole family feels that the Hospice team did a wonderful job and we appreciate their dedication to their work.

The goal is to help patients stay as comfortable and alert as possible, enhancing the quality of life at the end of life and reducing loneliness, isolation and stress. Hospice care neither delays nor hastens natural death.

The memories of the excellent care my wife received from Hospice is a comfort that I will always remember and cherish.

What about patients in nursing homes?

VNA Hospice services can be delivered in many local skilled nursing facilities which have made arrangements with VNA Hospice of Greater Lowell. The nursing home is considered the patient's place of residence. VNA Hospice supplements the care that is provided by the nursing home staff, enhancing service to both patient and family.

 

What about patients who live alone?

VNA Hospice offers a Live Alone program, for patients without primary caregivers. Particular attention is given to safeguards, coordination of services, and contingency planning.

 

How are Hospice services arranged?

The process of arranging VNA Hospice services can begin with a phone call from anyone - most typically, the patient, family member, or health care provider:

        • 800-349-8585 • 978-458-3123

  Often the patient's physician or the hospital case manager will coordinate the referral for VNA Hospice services. Patients and families who are interested in VNA Hospice services should discuss this with the physician, as physician orders are needed to begin services.

The VNA Hospice admissions nurse and intake staff will discuss Hospice in detail with the patient and family.

VNA Hospice services are usually covered under the patient's Medicare or other health insurance benefit.

 

What about patients who have a life-limiting illness, but who are not eligible or ready for Hospice care?

Our Bridge Program recognizes the importance of continuity of care for patients with serious illness. VNA Hospice nurses care for Bridge patients, so that if the transition to Hospice occurs, the patient continues to be cared for by the same team without disruption. VNA Hospice nurses have expertise in oncology and other acute services.

 

How does VNA Hospice help families who are grieving?

VNA Hospice provides bereavement support services for family and friends for up to one year following the death. An ongoing bereavement support group, an annual Community Memorial Service, informational mailings and other special programs bring comfort and understanding to those who are grieving.

Our RENEW bereavement support group, open to any adult who is grieving the death of a loved one, meets monthly at Lowell General Hospital's Cancer Center, 295 Varnum Avenue in Lowell, every third Thursday from 10:30 AM to Noon. This program of grief education, information and support is presented as a community service by VNA Hospice of Greater Lowell - there is no charge to participants. Contact the VNA Hospice Bereavement Coordinator at 978-459-9343.

To those who are grieving . . .

You have begun a journey which you most likely would not have chosen to take. Unless you have traveled this road before, you are not likely to recognize the landmarks - feelings of isolation, loneliness, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt. You may feel lost and alone, as if no one could possibly understand what it's like. Yet, some people do. Even though each person is unique, we often experience many things in common when we share similar experiences in life.

It has been said that grief is a universal experience, yet at the same time intensely personal. The depth of feeling is often unlike anything previously encountered, and many people find it difficult to put into words. The presence of others who understand without explanation is a gift and often a comfort.

As you move forward on your personal journey, you may find strength in the care and compassion of others who are also walking the path to renewal - searching for a way to begin again, to become strong again, to pick up the pieces and restore them to a functional whole.

When you need to talk, others will listen; when you need to listen, others will talk. Together, we all become companions on the journey as we explore and develop new ways of living each day.

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