News / Health

Hospice Teams Help Patients Face Death

Hospice Teams Help Patients Face Deathi
X
November 27, 2013 2:33 PM
When most people hear the word hospice, they usually associate it with death and dying. But as VOA’s Julie Taboh reports, hospice is more about providing care, comfort and support to terminally ill patients while helping them navigate—and optimize—the final days of their lives.
When most people hear the word hospice, they usually associate it with death and dying.

But hospice is more about providing care, comfort and support to terminally ill patients while helping them navigate—and optimize—the final days of their lives.

Preparing for the inevitable

Faye and Wayne Payne lived a rich and interesting life before settling down in a picturesque area of rural Virginia.

But their peaceful existence was shattered when they learned that Faye had lung cancer. The 70-year-old retired secretary endured a series of aggressive treatments that left her weak and underweight.

“I did the radiation, and I did the chemo,” she said, “and after I had the last scan done they realized I had more cancer coming up here. And I said ‘No more.’”

After talking it over with her doctors and members of her family, Faye decided to receive hospice care.

Hospice care

A clinical team made up of an aide, a nurse and a social worker from a nearby hospice organization, visit Faye in her home, providing care and comfort while helping prepare her for the inevitable.

“The nurse is looking at the medical things and the social worker at the psycho-social spiritual things,” said social worker Robin Johnson, part of the hospice team that visits Faye regularly. “And that can encompass a lot.” 

The clinical team has helped Faye realize that, yes, death is coming, and have helped her prepare for it.

“I now have everything lined up and ready to go,” she said.

Having the extra support helps everyone in the household, says Wayne Payne, Faye’s husband.

“They come along and they take her blood pressure and check her hearing and get her medication and it’s made life a whole lot easier for both of us,” he said.

Extra support

Hospice care is set up to provide care and support for the rest of the family as well, both during and after their patient has passed away.

In most cases, hospice care in the United States is provided in the patient’s own home, or in the home of their loved one, but it may also be provided in freestanding hospice centers, hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term facilities. Patients range in age from newborn through the elderly.

“When people are diagnosed with a terminal illness, and they’re no longer able to have aggressive treatment, they want their treatment to be more focused on comfort and care and symptom management in their home,” said Melissa Mills, assistant director of patient services at Hospice of the Rapidan, which serves terminally ill patients in several counties in the state of Virginia.

Dying with dignity

Being at home, she adds, also allows them autonomy and the choice to die with dignity.

“I think in America we feel like the overall perception is that you have to die in a hospital," she said. "But if you survey people, over 70 percent of the people surveyed don’t want to die in a hospital."

Jim Sykes, 74, is one of those patients who understands and appreciates that choice. Diagnosed two years ago with head and neck cancer, he's been receiving hospice care at home for seven months.

"I'm so glad that I got them," said Sykes, referring to his team of caregivers. "And I would advise anybody, anybody in that situation, to go for it, because they make your life so much better."

Many of social worker Lisa Stone's visits with Sykes include supportive listening. They also spend time looking at photographs.

“Jim has his black book of photos so we do what I like to call photo therapy," she said.

Eric Lindner, a hospice volunteer since 2009, has written about his experiences in a book called Eric Lindner, a hospice volunteer since 2009, has written about his experiences in a book called "Hospice Voices."
x
Eric Lindner, a hospice volunteer since 2009, has written about his experiences in a book called
Eric Lindner, a hospice volunteer since 2009, has written about his experiences in a book called "Hospice Voices."
Sykes says that while he was aware before that his illness was terminal, he was afraid. Hospice, he says, has helped him better prepare for his new reality.

"Now I’m not afraid," he said. "I’m not a bit afraid to go now.”

Eric Lindner, a hospice volunteer since 2009, has written about his experiences in a book called Hospice Voices and believes hospice provides a support system that’s largely missing in American culture.

“I’ve travelled a fair bit—China, Africa, other places—and the elders are embraced and taken into the family,” he said. “In this country, just the way it’s developed, maybe that’s the role that hospice has tried to fill a little bit.”

That support has helped patients like Faye Payne focus on the quality of life they’re enjoying today. She recently became a great-grandmother and has been savoring her time with the new baby.

But when the time comes for her to leave this earth, she is ready.

“I was born July 16, in 1942, but my dad was working on the railroad and he died April 16, 1942, so I want to get to see my dad one day, that’s the main thing," Faye said. "I have no regrets and I’m not afraid.”

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tina from: Locust Grove Va
December 06, 2013 5:19 AM
I have had the pleasure of working with this group many years. It is a wonderful service.

by: Melissa Mills
November 29, 2013 12:41 PM
So thankful for VOA and Eric Linder for helping spread the true message of hospice care.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More