Hospice and Pastoral Care Giving
For many the choice of hospice is a painful one. Intrinsic to hospice is the idea that one has given up and medicine can no longer save one’s loved one. One feels defeat and dismay but the reality is one is freeing him or herself from the bondage of self and accepting the will of Christ. Pastoral Care Givers have an opportunity to help others accept the final leg of their journey. They can also help families learn acceptance and find some joy in the final days. Furthermore, once prolongation of life is no longer the goal, then comfort becomes primary. This is the essence of hospice. It accepts the end but allows the person to die with dignity, comfort and consolation. It is not defeat but victory over denial. In many ways it is heroic decision for a person to submit his or her will to Christ and prepare for the next world.
Hospice should actually be seen as a pasture for the dying. The word actually comes from the Latin word, meaning hospitality. With such a warm meaning, it points to a better ending for the dying. In fact, 88 percent of the dying wish to die in their own home. Hospice in most cases can make this happen, unless certain critical conditions prevent this. It was a great joy personally to allow my grandfather to pass away in the comfort of his home. Fortunately, my grandmother was a retired nurse, but this is not the case for many and hospice gives individuals a chance to die comfortly with dignity.
Hospice as a care giving service focuses on the whole human person instead of just the medicial condition of a person. It has professionals who specialize in physical comfort for those dying of particular diseases but also professionals in counseling and ministry that help one find solace in their final moments. Although hospice service is only for those diagnosed with six months to live, there are many people who are re-diagnosed and have received care longer.
Hospice offers four types of care. The first type of care is routine home care. Standard services and visits are conducted in this first type of care. Registered nurses, chaplains, social workers and other care givers can come to the home and check on the patient. The second type of care is Respite Care. Within this care, a patient can spend five days with the hospice unit giving the primary care giver the much needed time to relax and refocus. The third type of care is General Inpatient Care. This type of care is a continuing care for someone who requires special treatment and care before death. The final type of care is Continuous Care. This type of care service allows the patient who is near death to stay home but is cared for by a mobile unit.
These services are critical in fitting a certain person’s needs but also giving the person the spiritual and emotional comfort before death.
If you are interested in Pastoral Care and care for the dying, please review the program.
Mark Moran, MA, GC-C, SCC-C
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