Our “Why” During COVID-19

Times of uncertainty often bring about reflection on our individual mission and purpose – our “why” in life.  We all have a different “why” that has been formed through our passions and life experiences.  Maybe your mission and purpose in life is teaching and mentoring the youth in your community, or maybe it is working in law enforcement to keep your community safe.  Across the company, we are fortunate to have some of the healthcare industry’s most talented professionals whose “why” also aligns with our mission to provide first-class care to our patients and their families.

While we all adjust to changes in our daily lives, our employees are continuing to fulfill their commitment to our patients.  From conducting music therapy in outdoor nursing home courtyards to providing meals for hospital staff and first responders, the current pandemic has even given us the opportunity to be creative in carrying out our mission.

As stated by Rosie Avila, Community Liaison at our Nurses in Touch location, “our purpose here is not for ourselves; it’s for others and in turn their purpose was for us.”  This rings true throughout the company, and our employees are living out their mission and purpose every day.

What is your mission and purpose – your “why” in life?  Perhaps it will be uncovered during these times.  Perhaps it will align with ours.  Perhaps it will provide an opportunity for us to partner in carrying out our missions to support our communities.  We are all in this together!

Making the Hospice Decision

Before a baby is born, planning around the baby’s life begins. The parents prepare for the baby by creating a registry. Friends plan and host a baby shower. Family helps decorate the nursery. As the baby grows, the parents teach the baby, now a child, how to read. They prepare the child for kindergarten, then elementary school, then middle school, and then high school. The child, now a young adult, decides on a trade school versus entering the work force directly after high school versus college, and if college is selected, the young adults selects a major, and prepares to earn a degree. Then the young adult applies for and accepts a job, decides to get married, and chooses when to start a family. He or she then decides how many children to have and how to raise those children.

We spend so much of our life preparing and planning—so why should it be any different when making a hospice decision? Ideally, from the start of a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, people should begin planning their goals and priorities with their physician. By having these conversations early, the person with a life-limiting illness can be fully involved in planning and making decisions regarding their wishes before the stress of a medical crisis.

Hospice is a continuation of care that shifts the goals of the patient from curative to comfort. When you or a loved one has a life-limiting illness and medical treatment is no longer effective, the doctor may refer you to hospice care. It should not be seen as a last resort but rather as an opportunity to focus on managing pain and other symptoms to find relief. This approach lets you dedicate your attention to what truly matters: living the rest of your life to the fullest.

A study by the National Palliative Care Organization found that patients who spent their final days on hospice reported having a better life experience than those who spent the end of their lives in intensive care. The researchers found that the patient’s choices often influenced the end-of-life care they got, which is why it is so important for people to plan for hospice, long before the need arises.

So, when should you make the hospice decision? Talk to your physician about signs and symptoms to consider prior to electing hospice care. Frequent hospitalizations, frequent infections, a decline in functional status, and an increase in uncontrollable symptoms or pain can all be indicators. Decide what you wish to do when treatment is no longer effective. Consider the benefits of managing symptoms from home rather than frequent visits to the physician or hospital. Consider the benefit of having a team of specialists available to you in your home—from a registered nurse to an aide, your doctor, a medical director, a social worker, and a chaplain. Consider access to your hospice team by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, where you could call your team if you had a question or a medical need. Consider the benefits of having medications related to your diagnosis and medical equipment made available to you in your home. These are all resources included in the Medicare hospice benefit, at no cost to the patient or their family.

If you have questions about the hospice benefit or when to elect your benefit, please contact us at info@hospiceofthemidwest.com.

Hospice Care That Focuses On Quality of Life

The hospice benefit is a multi-disciplinary approach to end of life care. When hospice patients are able to utilize the benefit, in its full capacity, self-fulfillment needs, psychological needs, and basic needs are met. At Hospice of the Midwest, we seek to meet all levels of needs for each hospice patient in order to maximize their end of life journey and hospice benefit utilization. 180 days on hospice not only allows for better end of life transitions for patients, but allows family members to be family members and our team to become caregivers. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey.

Is COVID-19 the source of your grief?

That nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach. The worry that you just can’t shake. The anxiety that you’re feeling. It’s easy to recognize stress, fear, and worry. But at its core, these feelings of stress, fear, or worry could really be expressions of an even deeper emotion—grief.

During this time of uncertainty with COVID-19, we are grieving a loss of normalcy; a loss of safety; a loss of finances; a loss of health for people we love and care about deeply; a loss of milestone moments for our kids—graduations, proms, sports; a loss of connectivity to our family and friends; and a loss of events and regular activities that bring us together, allow us time to destress, or provide us with an escape from the daily grind. The list goes on and on with the challenges and changes that our new social distancing practices have put in place.

It’s okay to feel these emotions and to recognize your grief. Recognizing your grief does not diminish all that you are thankful for. For example, you can grieve a loss of work but still be thankful for your time with your family—time that you might never would have taken, otherwise. Or you can grieve the expectation that you are now an employee, parent, and teacher all in the same moment while still being thankful that your children are home safe and that you have a job. Grieving one does not lessen your joy of the other.

Seasons of life, even the really difficult ones, are not strictly one-sided or black and white. These moments are Bittersweet and point to the fact that something can be both bitter and sweet at the same time. Much like this, joy can exist, intertwine, and mingle right alongside our grief. We can feel the hurt and the loss, yet look around and find moments of joy, happiness and hope.

This bittersweet feeling is one that our patients and families often describe. A loss of independence, health, and ability to perform tasks that bring joy can cause grief, but periods of togetherness, closure, acceptance, and comfort can provide sweetness and enrichment to the lives of our patients and their families. Our staff feels this complex grief too – grief upon our patients’ passing but also a comfort and peace that our patients and their families found moments of joy during a difficult time.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, grief expert David Kessler discussed these feelings of grief and how to combat those feelings. To summarize, he said:

  1. “Find balance in the things you’re thinking.” – Don’t just dwell in the worst-case scenarios. As it relates to the Coronavirus—think not just of the people who will be sick but also of all the people who will not because of our efforts to flatten the curve. As it relates to hospice – think not only of the passing of a loved one but also of the joy that your time with that person has added to your life.
  2. “Come into the present.” – In this present moment, your anticipatory thoughts are just that—thoughts, which may or may not come to fruition.
  3. “Let go of what you can’t control.”—Focus on what you can control. As it relates to the Coronavirus – practice social distancing, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face. As it relates to end of life– focus on what you can do, what you can enjoy, and what makes you happy.
  4. “Stock up on compassion.”—Fear and emotion manifest at pivotal times, such as a pandemic or at end of life. Recognize that a behavior may seem magnified out of fear. Give grace to those who behave out of character due to fear or emotion. Recognize them for who they typically are.

For the complete article from the Harvard Business Review, visit the link: https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief?fbclid=IwAR35_lZ8_xajIcqad-GfMTT6_Hcp_ytepXFah30uvVNMHnbri4RB6GmVPC4

Safe Activities to Enjoy While Social Distancing

Due to COVID-19, more and more Americans are practicing social distancing. While working at home, schooling from home, and sheltering in place, it’s understandable to wish for a simpler time when you could leave the house or interact with others outside of your household without worry. With new recommendations from the White House to continue social distancing through at least April 30, it’s more important than ever add a variety of entertainment to your life to keep yourself from feeling stir crazy. Here is a list of activities to help pass the time at a socially responsible distance:

  1. Utilize social media and video apps to stay connected to friends and family. Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Zoom are all video options you can use to connect with your long-distance friends.
  2. Walk, jog, hike or bike outdoors (while practicing social distancing from others).
  3. Read your neighborhood forums to see what types of social-distancing activities they have in place. For example, many neighborhoods are participating in bear hunts, where community members place teddy bears in windows so that kids can look for and count bears during their walks.
  4. Take a virtual tour of the Yellowstone National Park: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm. Many parks, aquariums, and zoos are offering free online tours or virtual experiences at this time.
  5. Write letters to your friends, family, nursing homes, and first responders.
  6. Do some spring cleaning.
  7. Play cards, board games or do a puzzle with your immediate family.
  8. Cook dinner – make a pizza from scratch or try a recipe that you’ve never made before because it was time-consuming.
  9. Join an online book club or meet with your friends virtually to discuss a book.
  10. Take a nap.
  11. Watch a movie or your favorite TV series on Netflix.
  12. Dig out your old coloring books. Coloring isn’t just for kids!
  13. Call the elderly people in your life and check on them. This would be a great time to interview your grandparents to learn more about their lives.
  14. Make a photobook online by uploading your favorite pictures from this past year.
  15. Buy gift cards from your favorite local businesses to use after social-distancing ends.

Let’s make the best out of this current situation by staying positive and being responsible. Spread the love, not COVID-19!

A Letter from Our CEO on COVID-19

Our Continued Diligence to Patient Care

  • Abode Healthcare has hired an infectious disease physician as an expert resource to help guide our decisions related to prevention and management of COVID-19.
  • All employees of Abode Healthcare have been re-educated on infection control, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as effective handwashing techniques.
  • Abode Healthcare has implemented new policies and procedures related to PPE and all medical equipment to decrease the potential for disease transmission.
  • As a company, we have revised and implemented new ways for communication to take place within the leadership of our company to ensure that any and all important information is distributed, received and acted upon in a timely manner.
  • Abode Healthcare has developed a national two-level screening process for our patients.
    • Level one is a screening tool that is used for ALL of our patients.
    • Level two is an enhanced screening tool that is implemented in areas where there are confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • Nationwide, Abode has implemented a screening process that takes place daily for our employees to decrease the risk for any transmission of the disease.
  • We have developed and implemented use of the Abode’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan, created specifically for our agency based on current recommendations from the CDC and the WHO.
    • This is a dynamic tool that will we will continue to revise and adapt as the situation evolves.
  • Abode Healthcare has secured necessary supplies for infection control practices as we continue to monitor and purchase more to effectively replenish our stocks.
  • Each of our locations has performed a live “mock” training event across every Abode agency with all employees to review our plans, discuss our specific roles, and ensure that every employee feels confident during this time to continue to provide the best care to our patients.
    • Confidence and dedication to patient care is key!
  • For patients being treated in Nursing Facilities with restricted access to outside visitors, we have implemented the following procedures:
    • Abode Healthcare has developed a remote visit for visits other than nursing, that can be done via phone with the patient, the caregiver, and with a representative at the facility that can provide information to us in order to collaborate on their plan of care.
    • Remote visits are available for social worker, chaplain, and music therapy visits.
    • The patients, families, caregivers, and physicians will be updated of any changes to the frequency or type of services we are allowed to provide.

Our dedication to our patients and family members during this time of need is our focus. We are here. Please let us know how we can help assist in any way with any patient in need during this time.

The coronavirus panic: How you can remain calm

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, is here in the United States and more people are getting sick, but the message remains the same: do not panic.  We’re reminded of the safety briefing on a plane “if the oxygen masks drop down and we lose altitude, put your mask on and stay calm.” Not panicking is easier said than done for many of us.  In fact, it is completely normal to panic when there is fear of catching a potentially deadly virus or fear of your plane going down.

Here are some tips and reminders on how to remain calm and help decrease your panic or anxiety:

  1. Start with grounding. Find the present moment by looking around at your surroundings. Exercise your five senses; what do you see, smell, hear, touch, feel?
  2. Listen to the experts. You’re not likely to get the virus, but if you do, you’re very likely to have mild or moderate symptoms. Live life as you normally would. Healthcare experts provide these practical tips for prevention against COVID-19 or other viruses:
    – Wash your hand frequently and thoroughly
    – Maintain a 3-6 foot distance in social situations with anyone who is coughing or sneezing
    – Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
    – Stay home if you are experiencing a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, and seek medical care.More advice is available online on the World Health International website: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
  1. Talk with others. When something is bothering you, talk about it. Tell your friends or spouse or partner “this virus makes me nervous.” Tell them why.  Just talking about it helps.
  2. Be optimistic. Tell yourself, “everything is going to be OK.  Most people are going to be just fine. I’ll be fine, too.”
  3. Use coping statements. “This is a bad virus, but we are going to be OK. This is temporary. I’ve been through bad things before and I can get through this. When the fear comes up, I’m going to acknowledge it and let it roll off my shoulder. I can handle it. I can deal with it. This too shall pass.”
  4. Practice good self-care. Eat healthy. Drink water. Exercise. Engage in your hobbies. Socialize. Nurture your spirit.

 

Shared with permission by First Choice Health EAP.

 

 

The Why, When, and How of Handwashing:

According to the Center for Disease Control, handwashing is your best defense against the spread of germs.

The CDC recommends washing your hands before, during, and after prepping food; before eating; before and after caring for a loved one; before and after treating a cut or wound; after using the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; after touching an animal or animal waste; after touching garbage; or after changing a diaper or cleaning up after a child.

Also consider washing your hands after touching surfaces in a public space; before and after work; and after using public transportation.

What is the best hand washing technique?

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – the same amount of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice.

  1. Wet your hands.
  2. Apply soap and lather well.
  3. Scrub your hands, including the backs of your hands and in between your fingers. If you’re wearing a ring, make sure to scrub underneath it!
  4. Rinse your hands well.
  5. Dry your hands.

If you do not have access to soap and water, consider a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover your hands with the hand sanitizer and rub your hands together until your hands are dry.

Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, but especially with unwashed hands.

For more information on the science behind washing your hands, visit:

https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-handwashing.html

The Honest Truth About Grief

The Honest Truth About Grief

Here are three honest truths about grief that everyone should know.

  1. Grief is forever. This is hard to hear, but vital to understand. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you will be able to adapt to and deal with your grief.
  2. It’s ok to not be ok. Grief is harsh, constant and overwhelming – especially at first. Let yourself feel those emotions and don’t be ashamed of it. Recognizing your grief allows you to be one step closer to conquering your journey with grief.
  3. Everyone grieves differently, so don’t be so hard on yourself. There is no one way to go about the grieving process. There are a lot of articles out there offering suggestions and remedies to help your grieving process, but it is important to find what works best for you. Simply because someone found relief in one method doesn’t mean you’ll experience the same result. Know that’s it’s ok to find comfort in things other may not understand.

Although the points discussed above were very raw and honest, here’s the good news: Although grief is tough and may not ever truly go away, it does change over time. Grief becomes a part of you, it mellows and, most importantly, it makes you stronger. Right now, you may think that what you’re feeling will never subside, but you will become genuinely happy again at some point. Life will go on.

Surviving Valentine’s Day with a Broken Heart

Alright. Breathe. Don’t panic. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and I know some of you are dreading this day. While this holiday can be tough enough for some of us, those who are grieving this Valentine’s Day may have it worse.

While your intentions may be to spend the day alone and sad, I challenge you to push through and celebrate this day. Okay, hear me out. I understand that grief and Valentine’s Day don’t mix well but try these options for making it through yet another holiday without your loved one.

  1. Light a candle in honor of your loved one. It’s okay to think about them on this day and remember the love you had for each other. Allow yourself to be present in your loved one’s memory and feel all those emotions.
  2. Bring a card or flowers to someone else who is feeling down this Valentine’s Day. Redirecting your grief and trying to connect with those who are also grieving on Valentine’s Day can help you put a positive spin on the holiday.
  3. Invite a group of people over for a casual get together. Trust me, you aren’t the only one who doesn’t want to be alone this Valentine’s Day. Connect with others who are feeling the same way as you or those who may not have someone to be with this holiday.
  4. Have some quiet time. While surrounding yourself with loved ones on this day will be a huge help, it’s also important to take some time to yourself.
  5. Believe that next year will be a little easier. I promise, things will get better and it won’t always be this hard.

Valentine’s Day will never be the same without your loved one, and that’s okay. Planning ahead and incorporating some of these tips throughout the day can help relieve the stress and create a new meaning for this holiday. Just remember – Love never dies.