Placing a loved one outside his or her own home or your own can be a difficult decision. At times it may feel like a betrayal or failure in caregiving. Perhaps you’ve made a promise to a dying patient (or to yourself) about providing in home care to the very end no matter what.
There are few absolutes at the end of life; we learn to face each challenge one day at a time with the realization that there are often no ideal solutions to unexpected conditions that may arise.
In some situations, however, it may wise to rethink commitments made at a certain point in the caregiving experience. A prior decision and best intentions may no longer be the best choice to provide the most compassionate and best medical care. There are few absolutes at the end of life; we learn to face each challenge one day at a time with the realization that there are often no ideal solutions to unexpected conditions that may arise.
Your determination to provide in home personal care to the end is noble and should be respected. Especially if this is the wish of your loved one and you are able to carry the responsibility both emotionally and physically. Remember, however, that both the wishes of a hospice patient and the ability of a caregiver to provide quality care may change daily. There is no morally correct way to provide for the unique daily needs of each patient during each phase of decline at the end of life.
By now you know that hospice care can take place at home, but it can also take place in a skilled nursing facility or inpatient hospice program. Rest assured that even in a different venue, your loved one (and you) will still be able to count on the hospice team—nurses, physical and occupational therapists, aides, chaplain, social worker and volunteers—to maintain quality of life, peace, and dignity at the end of life. Hospice celebrates life and restores hope, even during life’s transitions and challenges, wherever it takes place.
Go ahead: ask your hospice team about options for continued hospice care. They will be glad to help.
Ron has been involved in ministry to people for more than 30 years. As a chaplain with Holy Redeemer Hospice, he hears the life stories of patients daily and faces end-of-life challenges with each one. Along with being a member of the ethics committee, regularly presiding at memorial services and teaching hospice professionals, his primary joy comes in seeing the lessons of life revealed in so many lives rich with memories and questions.
Part of the perspective he brings to the hospice experience is placing this life event in the context of an entire life and generation of family history. As a chaplain, Ron works from a strong belief that the spiritual dynamics create a sacred space for hope and personal growth until the last breath and beyond, for both patients and caregivers. Honoring each individual path toward the end of life, he believes the work caregivers do and the reward they receive is more than physical. As a hospice chaplain, he considers himself a companion on that path.
On his own life’s path, Ron has been the clinical director of a residential addiction center, a community restorative justice organization, and pastoral staff. In addition to his work with hospice patients, Ron is a licensed marriage and family therapist working with families at all stages of the life cycle. This particular practice is enhanced by his own experience of nearly four decades of marriage, two daughters, and four grandchildren.