“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”—Helen Keller
The goal of hospice is to provide comfort for those who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and are nearing the end of their life. Hospice care isn’t just “a gift” for those who choose it, but it extends to their families, caregivers, and loved ones as well.
Hospice services are eligible for coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and private insurance programs, making hospice an affordable solution that comes with many benefits. Hospice includes a number of services administered by a team of skilled staff and volunteers offering specialized support. Each person on the team has a specific role. In understanding their roles, patients and their loved ones can gain a true sense of peace that they are surrounded by compassion and unequivocal support throughout the process.
A hospice team typically includes:
- Hospice Medical Director
- Home Health Aides
- Social Workers
- Spiritual Counselors/Chaplains
At Constellation, our approach is rooted in our Complete Care Solution for Hospice and providing the most comfort and care possible. The Constellation hospice care team—from nurses to volunteers—strives to give individuals the quality time and attention they deserve— always.
Deborah Moeller, Constellation’s Director of Hospice and Palliative Care in Connecticut, has been working in hospice services for over two decades and understands what it takes to be a part of a hospice care team.
“Our hospice team is a tremendous group of people,” she says. “The care and support that they give to the families and the individuals on hospice is amazing. They don’t only have a high skill level, but compassion as well. They always work together as a team.”
Below is a breakdown of who you can expect to see on your Constellation hospice team and why their role matters.
Hospice Medical Director
Hospice medical directors specialize in the unique challenges that surround end-of-life care. They work to make sure everyone involved in the patient’s care is aware of and understands the care plan that is in place. Additionally, hospice medical directors:
- Oversee patients and coordinate care plans with the hospice team.
- Work with the primary care physician to customize a plan and prescribe appropriate medications.
- Provide an additional layer of support to expertly manage symptoms.
Hospice nurses are an integral part of the hospice care team. They often are the bridge between doctors and the individuals on hospice—working closely to communicate with patients and families to ensure that expert-level care is being delivered. Additionally, hospice nurses:
- Assess and manage a patient’s care, pain, and symptoms.
- Provide hands-on care.
- Comfort and support the family about what to expect, when to report, and what to do.
- Brief family caregivers on the disease progression, medications, and general care.
Home Health Aides
Home health aides (HHA) work in stride with hospice nurses. HHA’s do not administer medications, but they do assist with day-to-day activities such as personal hygiene, bed transferring, chair transferring, preparing light meals, etc. Additionally, home health aides:
- Help with personal care, such as bathing, dressing, or mouth care.
- Provide a level of emotional support to the patient.
- Provide companionship and look for activities that bring joy as well as comfort. (examples: reading, playing music, connecting patient’s loved ones with virtual visits).
Hospice Social Workers
Hospice social workers advocate for the individual’s end-of-life wishes. They help patients and family members with the emotional aspects of life-limiting illnesses. Additionally, hospice social workers:
- Provide emotional and psychosocial support for the patient and family.
- Work with insurance companies or the Veterans Administration if needed.
- Provide guidance on conversations, preparation for what to expect, and support with advanced directives.
- Help to navigate finances and benefits for the patient and family.
Hospice chaplains or spiritual counselors are trained to be thoughtful listeners. They work to answer any questions that the individual or loved ones may have and offer insight when desired. Additionally, chaplains/spiritual counselors:
- Give tailored support for individuals that follow established faiths, rituals, or traditions.
- Provide a non-judgmental space where people can process their situation openly and freely.
- Help with spiritual preparation for the end-of-life.
- Are available to offer prayer, for those interested.
Hospice volunteers offer a comforting, compassionate presence at an extremely vulnerable and often lonely time. By engaging the individual in conversation, favorite music, or former hobbies, volunteers are able to socialize with those in hospice care. Additionally, volunteers:
- Assist with letter writing, email, phone calls, or facilitate virtual connections to the outside world.
- Engage patient in surroundings by enjoying nature, watching television together, chatting about the weather and seasons, or any topic of interest to the patient.
- Provide short (1-2 hour) respite, sitting with a patient while caregiver rests, relaxes, or does housework.
Bereavement specialists, also known as grief counselors, are healthcare professionals who provide counseling to those grieving the loss of a loved one. Bereavement support is provided up to 13 months after the family member passes, and can include support groups, grief education, and one-on-one time. Additionally, bereavement specialists:
- Can be brought in at any stage—before, during, or after passing—to address family grief.
At Constellation, we know that hospice may be difficult to understand and navigate. Our compassionate hospice care team is ready to guide you or your family through it. Contact us today with any further questions, or simply for a conversation.
Constellation’s Complete Care at Home approach takes patients through the care continuum utilizing human connection and technology to provide the best patient care. For hospice patients and their families, that means from start of services to bereavement services 13 months after end-of-life. We are there throughout that journey. Constellation is a family-owned, family-centered organization that has remained true to our commitment to providing the best patient experience and the highest quality outcomes. We believe this is accomplished by ensuring that everyone we connect with feels valued, trusted, and heard. Learn how we can help you.