Seniors

How to Ask—and Answer—the Hard Questions at the Holidays

Courtesy Goodwin House

Alexandria, VA – November was National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. As we inch closer to the holidays, a time of family gathering, some families are forced to bear the burden of losing or preparing for the loss of a loved one.

The holidays already place undue stress on most people, but if you are one whose stress is compounded by hospice care, bereavement, or family fractures, Goodwin House is here to help you bear the unbearable.

Beth Klint, Goodwin House Palliative Care and Hospice Executive Director, says, “Goodwin House’s Hospice and Palliative Care services come together as an interdisciplinary team to support a patient and family through the end of life journey.”

Goodwin House Palliative Care and Hospice Executive Director Beth Klint. (Photo courtesy of Goodwin House)

Since 1997, the Goodwin House Palliative Care and Hospice program has supported its residents within the Goodwin House organization. In 2016, it expanded those services outside of the Goodwin House walls, literally and figuratively. Anyone age 18 and over may request hospice or palliative care from Goodwin House.

Care provided includes nursing, social work, spiritual care, CNA services, bereavement services, durable medical equipment, communications, and more from certified Goodwin House staff and staff volunteers. Goodwin House has tried to make its services as accessible and straightforward as simply picking up the phone and giving them a call.

“This care,” Klint explains, “is based on Medicare benefits. The scope of services would be the same for anyone with Medicare or another private or commercial insurance. We are continuing to expand, and we hope to provide high-quality services to people in all of Northern Virginia.”

Maggie Gloria, the Medical Director of Hospice and Palliative Care at Goodwin House, explains, “You can self-refer for hospice services. Eventually, you need a physician order, but if you are a family member concerned, you have every right to pick up the phone and call.”

Medical Director of Hospice and Palliative Care at Goodwin House, Maggie Gloria. (Photo courtesy of Goodwin House)

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of requesting hospice services, what you can expect from Goodwin House is support beyond the basic medicine and medical equipment. Their Hospice and Palliative Care staff provide emotional support to patients and their loved ones throughout the process.

“Overall, our services are consistent, but we tailor care to the individual needs of family and patient,” says Klint. “Just being there to explain the little things, if someone can’t get mom in the shower because of sensory input, we help make it less scary by normalizing situations like a shower and providing outside resources. Our goal is to find out someone’s own goals of care.”

The Goodwin House team starts their individualized approach as soon as you’ve requested hospice or palliative care, providing care to people wherever they call home, whether that be a long-term care bed, the Goodwin House Assisted Living, Memory Support, or Independent Living residences, or elsewhere in the community.

Then their team is with you every step of your journey, whether with Goodwin House or beyond. If your services are beyond the scope of what Goodwin House can accommodate, they can refer you to the right resources, doctors, and hospitals outside of their system.

Similarly, if you are not on Medicare or another insurance plan, Goodwin House has resources to accommodate that. “We have a foundation that is the charitable arm of our organization,” says Gloria, “which raises funds to support someone. We have used it for things like bucket lists, insurance payments, etc. We would never deny someone care.”

More information regarding this foundation is available at goodwinhouse.org, but Gloria says, “The best way to reach us is to call.”

In a season where there is so much pressure to feel cheer and love and be with family, how does one even begin to talk or think about hospice or palliative care? Regardless of the season, Gloria urges every person to have the conversation with their loved ones. “Start the conversation with more general questions.”

A few ways to start the conversation is by open-ended questions, such as:

· Just for my knowledge…

· Should I ever need it in the future…

· Just in case…

· Have you ever thought about what you would want for medical wishes?

· If something were to happen…?

· What is the most important thing to you?

Visit goodwinhouse.org for more resources. (Photo courtesy of Goodwin House)

Goodwin House is here to provide ease, no matter your journey or how far along you are. For more information on Goodwin House Hospice and Palliative Care, visit goodwinhouse.org.

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