Archive for March 2017

The Role of Hospice Social Workers

Posted on Mar 27, 2017

As we’ve discussed before, hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team consisting of a medical director, nurses, aides, volunteers, chaplains, and social workers. Today we’ll be taking a closer look at the role of the social worker. Most people either have no idea what a hospice social worker does, or they have negative connotations associated with the term.

The truth is, a good social worker will be your best friend when your loved one is in hospice care. Social workers are intended to be your main point of contact for anything you need during this time. As most people have never experienced hospice care, having someone who can educate you about the mechanics of the hospice benefit, assist in creating advanced health care directives, make funeral arrangements, and provide emotional support will be incredibly helpful.

If there’s ever a question the social worker can’t answer, they’ll be able to get you in touch with someone who can answer your questions. One of the biggest roles the social worker will play is filling in any gaps you or your family needs. If you ever have any problems and don’t know where to go or who to ask, the social worker is a great place to start.

At Cura-HPC, our social workers are dedicated to helping our patients and their families in whatever way they can. They are a vital part of our team and we greatly appreciate the work they do. If you have any questions about social workers, the hospice team, or just about hospice in general, please don’t hesitate to call one of our transition specialists. 

What to Expect from Home Hospice

Posted on Mar 22, 2017

With all the myths and misconceptions surrounding the hospice industry, most people have no idea what to expect when the time comes to enroll their loved one in hospice care. This is a very confusing time, and it’s hard to know what you need to do and what the hospice will take care of. This kind of reaction is understandable, and very common. When you enroll a loved one in hospice care at Cura-HPC, here’s what you can expect.

First, you’ll have a meeting with one of our transition coordinators. Once we get word you need our services, we try to schedule this meeting as soon as possible. This meeting can take place at your home, the hospital, a coffee shop, or any other place that’s convenient for you. During this meeting, we’ll explain every step to you and answer any questions you have.

The goal of this meeting is to thoroughly explain the hospice benefit and take care of the necessary paperwork required for hospice admission.

Once your loved one is officially enrolled, different members of the hospice team will begin meeting with you and the patient as soon as possible. A hospice care team is made up of a medical director, nurses, aids, social workers, volunteers, and chaplains. This team will create an individualized care plan based on the needs of the patient and the family.

When the care plan is completed, supplies will be ordered and delivered to where ever the patient is located. The hospice benefit covers practically every expense. This includes things like medication, wheelchairs, beds, bandages, and other related supplies.

A regular schedule of care will be created, but this plan is subject to change as the conditions of the patient changes. Hospice care is available 24/7 every day of the year, so we’ll be able to meet the patient’s need under any circumstances.

One of the most unique features of hospice care is that we provide care for the family as well as the patient. While your loved one is in hospice care, and for 12 months after they pass, grief and bereavement counseling will be available to you. This is intended to treat the emotional symptoms associated with the death of a loved one.

If you have any more questions regarding hospice care, or if you’re wondering if your loved one will qualify for hospice care, call us today and we’ll be more than happy to assist you in whatever way we can. 

What to Say When a Friend is Grieving

Posted on Mar 16, 2017


When a friend experiences a loss, it’s hard to know what to say. These situations can be awkward and stressful. You want so badly to comfort and help your friend, but you’re overcome by the inability to find the right words. This is normal and somewhat expected. Remember that the mere fact you’re worried about trying to find the perfect way to comfort your friend is a sign you really care.

They say actions speak louder than words, and this certainly applies to times of grief. When someone is grieving they’ll typically have a hard time identifying their needs. So when you ask how you can help, they may not be able to articulate what they really need. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer, it’s always good to let them know they can come to you if they think of anything. However, sometimes it’s just best to meet needs has you see them. If the trash is full, take it out. If the lawn is overgrown, mow it. If they don’t have the energy to cook, bring them meals.

When it does come time to talk, keep this in mind:

  • Don’t try to fix the situation
  • Focus on what they’re feeling
  • Recognize the loss
  • Don’t try to rationalize or mitigate the loss
  • Don’t put a timeline on the grief
  • Keep the focus on them
  • Don’t tell them what to do or how to feel

Helping someone through the grieving process will have many twists and turns. Some days they might need you there and others they might need space. Be flexible and sensitive to their changing needs, and don't get discouraged if they have a bad day or two. Just being constantly available is one of the best ways you can help. 

A Guide to Hospice Terminology

Posted on Mar 09, 2017

A Guide to Hospice Terminology

Like any other industry, hospice and palliative care have their own set of special terms and jargon. Although these terms can be confusing, they aren’t meant to be. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to ask questions if you don’t understand what a term means. You should never feel embarrassed about asking a hospice employee for clarification, it’s normal to experience a little confusion.  To help you understand some of these terms, we put together a list of a few commonly used hospice terms.

Apnea- This condition causes a patient to stop breathing for short periods of time. The gap between breaths could be between 10 and 60 seconds.

Buccal- Medication placed on the inside of the cheek.

Bereavement- Grief counseling made available to the family of the deceased loved one. This program will be available for 13 months after the loved one dies.

Continuous/concentrated Care- The level of care provided when the patient’s symptoms are not under control. Nurses can be assigned to the patient’s bedside for eight-hour shifts.

Dysphagia- A condition when the patient has difficulty swallowing.

GIP- This stands for general inpatient care, which is the level of care provided when the patient requires hospitalization.

IDT- An interdisciplinary team is made up of nurses, volunteers, social workers, doctors, CNAs, health aids, and a few more depending on the circumstances.

Mottling- When the skin turns a bluish color due to poor circulation.

Palliative Care- When the patient is no longer trying to cure the sickness. Instead, treatment is focused on making the patient comfortable.

Recertification- A written notice from a certified doctor that the patient still qualifies for hospice benefits.

Respite Stay- A five-day period that is used to give rest to the patient and caregiver. These are awarded on a case-by-case basis and can only be used once every 30 days.

Transdermal Patch- A small patched adhered to the skin of the patient that gives a controlled release of medication.

There are plenty more hospice terms, but this is a good start. If you have questions about hospice care or a hospice term please reach out and we’d be happy to speak with you. 

Responding to Sympathy Notes

Posted on Mar 03, 2017

After a loved one passes you’ll likely receive a fair amount of letters, cards, emails, texts, and social media posts from friends and family expressing their sympathy. These will come in all shapes and sizes, some are short and sweet and others will be more long form recalling past memories and stories. Between all these displays of sympathy flooding in and being flooded with emotions of shock and grief, it’s hard to know what to do.

The first question to answer is, which of, if any, these sympathy notes need a response? The simple answer is that you shouldn’t feel socially obligated to respond to any of these notes. Odds are no one will be offended if you don’t respond to their letters or texts. Most will understand that you’re going through a lot and probably don’t have the time or emotional capacity to answer all these notes.

However, if you do wish to respond to some or all of these, there are a few options. First, most funeral homes will have small thank you notes you can get. These cards can be used for handwritten notes, or you can even print a generic response.

Sometimes it can be therapeutic to respond to these letters, but sometimes it can be overwhelming. It’s okay if you start responding to some, but can’t get through all of them. Remember that no one will be offended if someone else gets a thank you note and they don’t. Don’t feel obligated to finish the entire list just because you started. Do what you can without overwhelming yourself.

Everyone grieves differently, so don’t feel like you need to react the same way your friends or family members do. If others want to respond and you’re not up to it, that’s okay.

Responding to sympathy notes should never be viewed as a burden or something you “have to do.” If you choose to respond, do it in a way that helps you cope with the grief you’re feeling.