What makes hospice exceptional is its approach of not just caring for the patient, but also for the family. Hospice addresses their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. This surprised Fran Amy when her mother, Catherine, became a VNA Hospice patient after her mental and physical health declined. Like many, Fran assumed hospice was for the last days of life and didn’t fully understand all the benefits it presents. Catherine was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and experiencing heart problems. The physician explained how hospice would provide her with extra assistance through her VNA Hospice team. Being her mom’s primary caregiver, Fran gladly accepted the help. “I thought, you know, it wasn’t so much of her physical but her mental too. It was draining us,” recalls Fran.
Caregiving was a full-time job for Fran, and it took an emotional and physical toll on her and her family. In the evenings, her mom became agitated, which resulted in restless nights for everyone. When her mom’s cognitive abilities deteriorated even more, the social worker suggested they use the VNA Hospice House to give themselves a few days of rest while VNA staff cared for her mom at the residential center.
After the first night in the Hospice House, it was clear to the nurses and aides that Catherine’s care was beyond the capabilities of any family. The Hospice House nurse suggested Catherine remain under the team’s 24-hour care. Fran was overwhelmed with emotion. “The nurse said to me, ‘you don’t have to worry about this anymore; we are now going to take care of your mom.’ I just started crying because this has been hard.”
The VNA Hospice House is unique in that it provides a solution to patients and families when they can no longer receive end-of-life care in their homes. Many hospice programs cannot offer their communities this resource. Although her mom was a resident for just a few days, Fran recognizes the vital role the Hospice House plays for individuals and families. “The Hospice House is a blessing,” adds Fran. “I didn’t know not everyone had one, but I guess they don’t. We are lucky in this county.”
Charitable giving continues operations and maintains the VNA Hospice House so families and their loved ones benefit from compassionate care. The VNA Hospice House has proven to be a critical resource for countless local caregivers and patients who needed around-the-clock care. Fran, and other families like hers, rely on this assistance to help them through this difficult time, and without the generosity of donors, these essential services would not be available to create a better quality of life and elevate the level of care for hospice patients and their families.