Comfort and Guidance, Focused on You
At the Middlesex Health Hospice Program, we are focused on our patients—not their illness. We believe that hospice affirms life, and our first priority is to provide comfort for you and guidance for your loved ones.
There is still hope when entering into hospice care. The hope shifts—it is hope for a quality life, taken day-by-day, during the advanced stage of illness. Hospice care recognizes death as the final stage of life and seeks to enable patients to continue an alert, pain-free life and manage symptoms, so that their last days may be spent with dignity, surrounded by loved ones.
What is Hospice?
Hospice care is end of life care. Hospice may be a good choice for you if you wish to focus on comfort and the quality of the time remaining with friends and family.
Our hospice team—which may include doctors, nurses, social workers, home health aides, therapists, bereavement counselors, chaplains, trained volunteers—will:
- help you and your loved ones make informed decisions about caregiving
- teach the skills your friends and family need to give "hands-on" care
- provide support for patients and families near end-of-life
- provide support during the bereavement period
Why choose hospice?
The end of life is a challenging time for patients and their loved ones, and it impacts us all differently. Hospice care can help you find comfort and joy in the time that remains, as well as feel confident and at peace with decisions regarding your care and your health.
Hospice focuses on you and your care—not your illness and its cure. Our team embraces your entire family, supporting you as you make difficult decisions, helping you have control over those decisions, and offering bereavement counseling to your loved ones after your death.
When is hospice care appropriate?
People choose hospice when the burden of receiving treatment is greater than the benefit of receiving treatment. Hospice care can also be the best choice if there are no longer treatment options that will cure an illness.
Your physician will work with you to determine if and when hospice is appropriate, based on your illness and your needs. There are some general criteria that help guide this decision:
- a patient has a life expectancy of six months or less if an illness runs its normal course
- a patient desires palliative treatment
- a patient wants to stay in their home as long as possible
Is it too soon to ask about hospice care?
It is never too soon to learn about hospice. If your health is declining, you need to know about your choices for care, so that you make the right decisions for yourself and your family. Don't worry about asking about hospice "too soon." The more you know, the easier the decision to have hospice care will be when the time comes.
Hospice Care at Middlesex Health
We take a team-based approach to ensure that all of our patients, and their loved ones, have access to the best possible physical, emotional, spiritual and social support.
The mission of the Middlesex Health Hospice Program is to provide physical, emotional, social and spiritual support to terminally ill patients, as well as their families and loved ones, while assisting patients and families to live with dignity and comfort as they cope with end-of-life issues.
- Hospice affirms life.
- Hospice recognizes dying as a process and so our care provides comfort rather than cure.
- Hospice neither hastens nor postpones death.
- Hospice provides physical, emotional and spiritual care to terminally ill persons and their families.
- Hospice helps the terminally ill person maintain quality of life and helps family members through an extremely stressful time in their lives.
Patients receiving hospice care through Middlesex Health have access to a wide range of services that support physical, emotional and spiritual comfort. All services are provided under the direction of a physician.
- Access to our on-call nurse 24/7
- Management of symptoms and medications
- Help with nutritional needs
- Coordination of care
- Personal care
- Education on illness-related issues
- Emotional support
- Spiritual counseling
- Holistic services (such as pet therapy, music, Reiki)
- Assistance with resource planning
- Caregiver assistance
- Bereavement support
- Physical, occupational and speech therapy for comfort of caregivers
Our hospice team is made up of experts from across the health system who come together to support you and your loved ones.
Who are the members of a hospice care team?
- Physicians: All medical care for hospice patients is coordinated by our specially-trained doctors. These doctors work together under the supervision of the Hospice Medical Director.
- Hospice Program Director: Oversees all administrative aspects of the hospice program so that patients and families only have to focus on comfort and quality time together.
- Clinical Supervisor: Works with all hospice care providers, including nurses, to make sure all patient needs are met.
- Registered Nurses: Provide skilled nursing care and work with all members of the hospice care team, as well as patients and loved ones, to build the patient’s care plan.
- Medical Social Worker: Supports patients and loved ones in making end-of-life decisions, as those decisions relate to social, economic, and psychological health.
- Hospice Aides: Provide physical and emotional support to patients and their loved ones under the direction of the hospice nurses.
- Dietary Counselor: Dietitian, nurse or other trained professional who can provide education and resources to make sure all food-related needs are met.
- Spiritual Counselor: Provides and coordinates spiritual needs for patients and families, in accordance with the patient’s unique belief system.
- Bereavement Counselor: Coordinates bereavement program and works with families for up to thirteen months after the death of a loved one.
- Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapists: When appropriate, provide therapies to help patients maintain activities of daily living and basic functional skills.
- Pharmacy Consultant: Advises on medications and works with physicians and nurses on related concerns, when appropriate.
- Volunteers: Under the guidance of the volunteer coordinator, volunteers provide companionship and support for patients and families.
Where is hospice care given?
- At Home:
Most often, hospice care is delivered in your home. Our team members will come to your house, condo, apartment—or wherever you call home—to provide services for you and your loved ones.
- At a Nursing Home:
If you live at a nursing home or assisted living facility, our team members will visit you there and can provide the same services for you and your family or friends.
- In the Comfort Care Unit
Some patients need more care than can be delivered at home. If you or your loved one needs pain control or management of other symptoms, you may be admitted to the Comfort Care Unit at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, CT. We have a team dedicated to determining if and when inpatient care is necessary.
Following the loss of a loved one, our worlds change. Every death creates its own challenges, unique to each survivor. Each of us deals with grief and loss differently, and there is no one right way to grieve.
Losing a loved one can have a profound effect that requires a period of mourning, adjustment and extra support. The task of grieving is hard work. Be good to yourself, and give yourself time to grieve. The amount of time needed is different for every person.
The bereavement team at Middlesex Health Hospice is here to provide you with a variety of ways to help you on this journey of grieving. We offer:
- Bereavement follow-up for 13 months after the death of your loved one
- Bereavement Support Group
- Short term grief counseling by telephone or office visit
- Educational opportunities throughout the year
- Annual Service of Remembrance
Many of our bereavement services, such as follow-up and our support group, are currently taking place online. We are taking this step to keep our patients, families, staff and community as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regardless, our staff is here to assist you during your time of transition and grief. Please feel free to contact our Hospice Bereavement Department at 860-358-6091.
How to Navigate the Journey of Grief
Dennis McCann, Middlesex Health Per Diem Chaplain, discusses the journey of grief and the valuable tools one can use to make this personal journey less daunting.
The Journey of Grief Resources
At the Middlesex Health Hospice Program, we are a proud partner of We Honor Veterans.
We Honor Veterans recognizes organizations that are fully committed to honoring the unique needs of veterans through respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgement.
We Honor Veterans is a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Bereavement Support Group
Although there are no magic cures or shortcuts through grief, opportunities do exist to help ease the pain, draw strength and courage to go on, and discover once again fulfillment and meaning in life. Middlesex Health offers Bereavement Support Groups for families who have experienced the death of a loved one.
- We offer a Monday evening group that meets every other week from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
- We offer a Tuesday evening group that meets every other week from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- We offer a Young Widows and Widowers Support Group that meets monthly on the third Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
Volunteers are a vital and valued part of the hospice interdisciplinary team. They provide an additional layer of support for patients and families while the patient is being cared for and during the bereavement period.
To support the best possible experience for our patients and their families, we require that all volunteers:
- Have excellent judgement when interacting with patients and families
- Be compassionate and able to interact with people of different backgrounds in a non-judgemental way and without offering opinions or advice
- Maintain confidentiality
- Have the ability to work well as part of a team
All volunteers receive competency-based training and are mentored by experienced volunteers.
There are many ways to support the Middlesex Health Hospice Program! Scheduling is flexible, and we ask for a one year commitment. Please note that some opportunities have been changed to help keep our patients and volunteers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Volunteer opportunities include:
- Visiting patients in their homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities or group homes for up to four hours per week.
- End of Life Doulas
- Making weekly Tuck-in calls
- Helping families create legacies
- Participating on the Vigil team
- Providing Reiki to patients and caregivers
- Providing "Vet-to-Vet" visits as a part of the We Honor Veterans program.
- Making bereavement calls
- Providing administrative support
- Volunteering on the Comfort Care Unit at Middlesex Hospital
- Supporting the Annual Service of Remembrance, Sew-a-thon and other annual events
- Participating in outreach activities
- Attending inservice programs, team meetings and social events to enhance knowledge and connect with other Hospice Volunteer Team members
For more information about volunteer training, please contact the Hospice Program Volunteer Coordinator, Diane K. Santostefano:
- By phone at 860-358-6955
- By email at email@example.com
Staying Safe During COVID-19
To keep our patients, volunteers and staff as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are not offering Volunteer Training at this time. However, we encourage you to reach out if you are interested in volunteering, and we will contact you when we are able to begin training new volunteers either online or in person.
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