Thinking Through Plans for Mrs. Smith’s Exit
January 20, 2023
Thinking through Plans for Mrs. Smith’s Exit
Mrs. Smith’s daughter Elizabeth recently called Wings of Hope for the first time, not knowing if she really wanted to make the call. Her mother had been suffering from chronic disease. Elizabeth knew she needed help in keeping her mother at home.
At Wings of Hope, we know how tough that first phone call can be. We are trained in compassionately presenting options to families when a loved one needs our care.
We first want to know what is going on and what your needs are. Are you having difficulty getting back and forth to doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations or the pharmacy? What is your doctor’s diagnosis and prognosis for your loved-one? Is there pain involved, a loss of appetite, or a waning of daily living skills? During Elizabeth’s phone call, she indicated she would need help in personal care for her mother as well as a walker, bedside commode and shower chair.
We are able to have a conversation with you about the continuum of care we provide from palliative to hospice care. Elizabeth was surprised about the services that her mother was entitled to. Our staff worked with Elizabeth and her mother’s physician to find out which level of care best met this family’s needs and goals.
There were several things that Elizabeth felt good about after her conversation with Wings of Hope. She was reassured that she and her mother would remain in the “driver’s seat” regarding the decisions related to Mrs. Smith’s care, and that they could withdraw from Wings of Hope care at any time. Mrs. Smith felt secure in knowing her exit from this life would be more peaceful in having excellent care in her home. She realized she didn’t want to wait until her final week or days to arrange for care. She wanted a prudent plan of care as well as the delivery of medical equipment and medications. She wanted to cultivate relationships with her caregivers sooner rather than later. She didn’t want to wait for a few last hectic days or hours to prepare for her exit. Both Elizabeth and her mother were glad to learn research that shows people often live longer and better on palliative and hospice care, likely because the care is patient centered with emphasis on spiritual, emotional, social and physical needs. They both were glad to know that there would be no out-of-pocket cost for hospice care provided through Wings of Hope or to stay at the Wings Home.
Mother and daughter breathed a sigh of relief after their initial phone call. They agreed that the words “hospice” or “palliative care” were less scary in having a conversation with someone who cared about their unique circumstances.
At Wings of Hope, we understand the privilege of being with real people in one of the most significant parts of their lives. In previously doing this hundreds, even thousands of times, we are skilled in thinking creatively with them in meeting their needs.
Names in the story are pseudonyms.
Authors: Kendra Kane, Wings of Hope Clinical Liaison
Greg Carlson, Wings of Hope Spiritual Care Coordinator
Photography by Craig Gardiner Photography