Topic: Uncategorized

Starting the Hospice conversation

No one is ever fully prepared to have a conversation about death. It’s sad and difficult for loved ones of a person reaching the end-of-life as well as for that person’s physician who has been focused on helping that person recover or improve.

No one wants to hear, “There is nothing more that can be done,” and with hospice as an option that statement is never true. A cure might not be possible, but it’s important each individual faced with that reality know that there is still more life ahead.

The best thing for the people we love is for them to have the best quality of life possible, for as long as possible – and when a cure is no longer possible, hospice is available to offer care and support.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we offer symptom management while also supporting the social and spiritual needs of people helping them to live their best possible lives in the time remaining.

The best way to broach the topic of hospice with a loved one is to put all the cards on the table and have an honest discussion about the person’s prognosis and the complications of their current condition, such as frequent ER visits and hospital stays, side effects of their illness or treatment such as infections, pain and shortness of breath, and the overall stress and fear they are feeling.

It’s important for a person considering hospice care to know what their options are and that they will not be alone. Focus on the following points:

  • There is not a cure for your condition, so let’s focus on the things we can control and that includes
    making sure you make the most of the time you have left
  • The hospice team will help you to maintain as much independence and dignity as possible for as
    long as possible so you can have the best possible quality of life
  • Because of hospice, you’ll have better control of your symptoms and be able to stay at home with us
  • Your doctor is still part of the team and we can reach out if we need him/her
  • You aren’t going to live as long as we all want, but we’ll be able to enjoy the time we have with you

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is happy to sit down with families and help them have this conversation or have it with their loved ones for them. No one should walk the end of life journey along, and we are proud to be here to support patients and their loved ones every step of the way.

For more information call 866.474.5230 or visit our Hospice page.

Managing Pain

How well do you understand Palliative Care?

September is Pain Management Month, a good time to consider how important pain management is in the lives of those living with a chronic illness.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we offer a palliative care program focused on quality of life that is beneficial for anyone suffering from side effects of curative treatments or simply those in need of pain or symptom management.

Common misconceptions about palliative care include that a person must be in the hospital to receive it or that pain and suffering is just part of a chronic illness.

Palliative care is aimed at controlling symptoms so patients are more comfortable and able to stay out of the hospital. It is helpful to those struggling to cope as an illness progresses and those suffering from a variety of causes of discomfort and pain.

Shortness of breath, the inability to move around freely, loss of appetite and nausea, confusion about one’s treatment plan or worry about the future, and a loss of interest in hobbies that comes with depression or frustration resulting from an illness are all things causes of discomfort and pain that palliative care can help improve.

Palliative care teams include registered nurses, home health aides, spiritual counselors, social workers and rehabilitation therapists.

Pain does not have to be accepted as part of chronic illness, nor is it always part of dying once an illness progresses. There are many ways pain can be managed. In addition to providing symptom control medically, our program can help lower stress on patients and families, which aids the process of getting pain under control.

Many confuse palliative care with hospice care, and believe that they must be dying or end their curative treatment to receive a palliative care referral.

Palliative care can be engaged at any point during an illness and is not the same as hospice care. Unlike with hospice services, patients receiving palliative care can continue curative treatments and do not need to be considered terminally ill.

Engaging palliative care does not mean you will die sooner, it simply means you will continue to live with the support of trained professionals who can help ensure you have the best quality of life possible.

Healthcare Decisions Day 2019

In an effort to educate and empower people to learn about and engage in advance healthcare decision-making, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has planned a full day of outreach culminating in a panel presentation from three local experts as part of National Healthcare Decisions Day.

Recognized on Tuesday, April 16, National Healthcare Decisions day is a collaborative effort of national, state and community organizations aimed at ensuring information, opportunity and access is available for all to document important healthcare decisions.

The theme for this year’s day is: “It’s always seems too early, until it’s too late.”

As part of this movement, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is providing information and tools for the public to talk about their wishes with family, friends and healthcare providers. The nonprofit agency will also have information available on how to execute written advance directives, such as healthcare power of attorney and living wills in accordance with Connecticut state laws.

On April 16, trained VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice volunteers will be available at local senior centers to provide information and education, and the day will culminate in a panel that evening at Evergreen Woods, located at 88 Notch Hill Rd. in North Branford. An informal social hour with hors d’oeuvres and the opportunity to review informational materials will begin at 5 p.m. with the panel presentation scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

Panelists include Donna Cricenzo, concierge physician and the medical director of the VNACHCH hospice program, who will discuss the chronic illness journey and ultimate palliative and hospice care decisions one might face. Joan Reed Wilson of RWC, LLC Attorneys and Counselors at Law will sit on the panel to share important information regarding elder law and estate planning. Finally, Guy Tommasi, the executive director of VNACHCH affiliate LIFETIME Care at Home will share his perspective on the need for non-medical in-home care and the decisions associated with that phase of the healthcare journey.

Healthcare Decisions Day events:

Meet with a VNACHCH representative April 16:

Miller Senior Center
2901 Dixwell Ave., Hamden
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
No registration required

Joyce Budrow Senior Center
189 Pool Rd., North Haven
11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
No registration required

Guilford Senior Center
32 Church St., Guilford
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
No registration required

Madison Senior Center
29 Bradley Rd., Madison
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
No registration required

Advance Care Planning panel April 16:
Evergreen Woods
88 Notch Hill Road, North Branford
5 p.m. hors d’oeuvres
6 p.m. panel discussion
Registration required at 866.474.5230

Healthcare Decisions Day resources:

Below is a link to a summary of Connecticut State law pertaining to an individual’s right to make health care decisions, directions for completing the consolidated health care instructions and advance directives document and the documents themselves including Appointment of A Health Care Representative, Living Will and Health Care Instructions, Appointment of a Conservator and Organ Donation in one form.

https://www.ct.gov/agingservices/lib/agingservices/pdf/advancedirectivesenglish.pdf

Below are links to useful documents when it comes to starting the advance care planning conversation with family members and healthcare providers.

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-ConvoStarterKit-English.pdf

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ConversationProject-ProxyKit-English.pdf

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-StarterKit-Alzheimers-English.pdf

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-TalkToYourDr-English.pdf

For more information and for these documents available in other languages, visit theconversationproject.org.

LIFETIME Care at Home receives 2018 Best of Home Care® – Leader in Excellence Award

LIFETIME Care at Home recently announced that it received the distinguished Best of Home Care –Leader in Excellence Award from Home Care Pulse, the leading firm in quality assurance for home care. The Leader in Excellence Award is the highest recognition awarded by Home Care Pulse and is given to select home care businesses that consistently rank among the very highest in 15 or more quality metrics. As a Leader in Excellence, LIFETIME Care at Home is now ranked among the top 4-5% of home care providers participating in the Home Care Pulse Satisfaction Management Program.

This accomplishment demonstrates LIFETIME’s long-term dedication to excellent care and quality improvement. To qualify for this award, 10% of LIFETIME’s clients and caregivers were interviewed each month by Home Care Pulse. Over a 12-month period, LIFETIME received high client and caregiver satisfaction ratings in areas such as: caregiver training, compassion of caregivers, communication, scheduling, client/caregiver compatibility, etc. Using feedback from clients and employees, as well as quality benchmarks from Home Care Pulse, the LIFETIME management team set goals to reach the highest level of excellence possible.

“This recognition by Home Care Pulse is testimony to the hard work, commitment and dedication of both our support staff and caregivers. It shows that our clients and families trust us to provide compassionate, respectful, quality care as they remain safe and independent at home,” says Guy Tommasi, Jr. Executive Director, LIFETIME Care at Home.

LIFETIME Care at home is a proud affiliate of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice.  Since 1999 they have been providing advising and caregiving services throughout Connecticut. Their mission is to embody a spirit of compassion for those seeking and receiving in-home care. LIFETIME’s services include activity assistance, personal care, live in, and transportation.

The Best of Home Care – Leader in Excellence Award highlights the top-performing home care businesses in the nation. Home Care Pulse believes that by honoring these providers, families looking for in-home care for a loved one will be able to recognize and choose a trusted home care provider.

“Our goal at Home Care Pulse is to empower home care businesses to reach their goals and deliver the best home care possible,” says Aaron Marcum, CEO and founder of Home Care Pulse. “We are happy to recognize LIFETIME Care at Home as a Leader in Excellence. We’ve been impressed by their commitment to their clients and caregivers, as well as the quality of the overall care they provide. They really stand out in their market as a top home care provider.”

Click here to learn more about LIFETIME Care at Home’s commitment to excellence or call 203-458-5990.

Fall Free Living Highlighted in Journal of Gerontology

The success of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s award winning Fall Free Living program was recently highlighted in a report published in the Journal of Gerontology.  The report, Intervention to Prevent Falls: Community-Based Clinics, written by:  Yale University’s Dorothy I. Baker, Linda Leo-Summers, and Terrence E. Murphy; plus VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s Barbara Katz and Beth A. Capobianco focuses on the impact fall prevention clinics, like our Fall Free Living program, have on rates of self-reported falls and fall-related use of health services.

For the past 6 years Fall Free Living has been funded by a grant from the Connecticut Collaboration for Fall Prevention at Yale University School of Medicine through the Connecticut State Department on Aging.  The program offers group and individual in-home fall risk screenings and personal recommendations to reduce fall risk. Many Tai Chi and chair exercise classes designed to help participants build and maintain strength and balance.

 

Fall Prevention Publication