In these unprecedented times, Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, which operates locally in Glendale as well as across the country, offered a view into the ways hospices have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hospice care is designed to care for people and keep them comfortable toward the end of their lives but does not include extreme medical intervention. Hospice facilities deal with the sick and dying while also offering bereavement services for family members.
In order for families to stay connected to their loved ones, Seasons Hospice has made any changes to adapt.
Seasons Hospice Vice President Tony Kudner explained, “We had to get a little creative. We use a variety of forms of video conferencing to facilitate communications. Nurses go to bedside and Skype call with family, and in other situations, families come to the window of patients’ rooms with a speaker phone.”
Where possible, facilities try to still allow patients to receive visitors, but safety is always a priority so it is not always possible, he added.
Other methods being implemented to lift spirits include parades outside of patients’ rooms held by staff and music therapy. Volunteers from Letters for the World have sent in letters that are distributed to patients, letting them know that people are thinking of them.
Another important aspect of hospice care is grief counseling and bereavement services provided for the families of patients. Seasons Hospice provides a variety of forms of grief counseling with families for up to 13 months after the passing of a relative.
These services have also been impacted by the pandemic, and in response, Seasons has offered more online services.
“We are leveraging technology to host virtual bereavement groups and facilitate clinical bereavement care. We are finding a new normal and not giving up,” Kudner said.
The bereavement services have also become even more critical since the beginning of the pandemic.
“The amount of calls we make has almost doubled. Family members that used to say they did not need to talk are now picking up the calls needing to talk,” Kudner noted.
In addition to grief counseling, Seasons Hospice has also aided families by providing more online educational resources. Resources educating people about hospice care, various diseases and the response to coronavirus are available for free on Seasons’ website.
Hospice staff have also needed to adapt how they provided care. With the priority of keeping patients and their families safe, Seasons Hospice developed an internal crisis response team that meets to develop responses to the challenges presented by COVID-19.
The pandemic has necessitated major changes to the hospice industry. Across the country, hospice facilities have had to rise to the challenge.
“Hospices are still struggling with new normal, and finding creative ways to care has been a challenge,” Kudner said.
“We are proud to rise to the challenge, because every patient deserves a high level of care and comfort.”
For more information, visit seasons.org.