By: Ashley Strehl - Managing Editor of Print and Digital Publications
When it comes to the word “hospice,” many people who are familiar with the word may have apprehensive feelings about it. What some may not realize is that many hospice representatives who donate their time to long-term care communities strive to bring positivity, fun and love to their patients and residents within long-term care communities.
What is Hospice?
According to the Hospice Foundation of America, hospice is medical care to help someone with a terminal illness live as well as possible for as long as possible, with the goal of transitioning off hospice if possible. Hospice organizations send out licensed nurses to eligible patients for in-home 24/7, daily, biweekly, or weekly care, and they also send out business development representatives to local long-term care communities to make connections with the residents and staff by lending a helping hand.
Under the management of Voyage Long Term Care, our long-term communities at Oak Hills Care Center, Edmond Health Care Center, and Skyview Nursing Center take advantage of those helping hands around Oklahoma City. Connections include various hospice organizations such as Frontier Hospice, Centric Hospice and Home Health, Emerald Hospice, Good Shepard Hospice, and Humanity Hospice.
“I grew up around long-term care, so I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Business Development representative at Centric Hospice and Home Health, Taylor Hyde, said. “When someone asks me about what I do for my job, I like to call it, ‘making friends.’ As a long-term care community, if you need help and if you have hospice resources around you, use them. That is absolutely what they are there for. It’s just beneficial to everyone.”
What Have Our Connections Done for Us?
For Business Developers like Hyde, they often bring treats, activities, and games to the residents of our long-term care communities. Hyde has introduced “Singo” to Oak Hills Care Center, a music-based Bingo game that has become an all-time favorite amongst the residents. She has also coordinated other activities such as a photobooth, and a slip n’ water slide for the residents.
Centric Hospice has also sent Business Development Representative, Brooke Ringer, to
Skyview Nursing Center, where she has brought outdoor games to the residents, and a birthday cake to celebrate the residents’ monthly birthday party.
Emerald Hospice provides Marketing Representative, Hunter Wilson, to Oak Hills Care Center to sing gospel music with the residents once a month.
Good Shepard Hospice sends out their Community Liaisons, Delana Secondi, to Oak Hills Care Center who has played Jeopardy and other interactive memory care-based games with the residents, and Tyrone Simpkins, who has done jewelry making with residents of Skyview Nursing Center.
“To see the resident’s smiles whenever we come and do something fun with them ... it’s unreal,” Hyde said. “Even if it’s for a few minutes, if we can make the residents laugh or smile … it’s 1000% worth every bit of the effort we have to put into it.”
However, our connections are not only utilized for fun and games. Long time connection to Voyage Long Term Care, Frontier Home Health and Hospice, is in the process of initiating respite rooms throughout our long-term care communities for their patients. Respite rooms are used when a patient's home health-aid is out of town or needs a day off for personal reasons. This room allows the patient to continue receiving 24/7 skilled nursing care while their home health-aid is gone.
This benefits the long-term care community monetarily because those patients pay the community to stay for each day that their aid is off duty, and patients could utilize that resource for up to 5 days. “Hospice care givers can get really burnt out,” Regional Sales Director at Frontier Hospice, Malane Harbor, said. “So, the respite room really benefits them in their time of need, and benefits the long-term care community as well.”
Harbor mentioned that the respite room can also be a useful tool for the family of a hospice patient to test out the long-term care community with the possibility of transferring them under their care. Frontier Hospice has officially finished their respite room at Oak Hills Care Center, and have plans to remodel and implement respite rooms at Edmond Health Care Center and Skyview Nursing Center in the future.
Frontier Hospice has been a beneficiary to all our homes by sending out development representatives like Stephanie Parrish who has brought snacks like root beer floats for National Root Beer Float Day at Skyview Nursing Center. Skyview Nursing Center also utilizes, Caleb Frank, another Frontier Hospice Representative, to come and do Bingo and men's devotionals every other week with the residents.
Why is it Important?
Whether it be an afternoon game, performance, or snack, Hyde says nothing is too big or too small for people like her, they are simply happy to help. “I think the best thing about having a hospice connection in a nursing home is the resources that we can offer that may not have,” Hyde said. “A lot of times we will ask the home what we can do and what they need.”
Hyde said that as a hospice representative, she has seen long-term care communities struggling in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We see them struggle for staff, and stay motivated like they did before the pandemic,” Hyde said. “My whole family has been in nursing, so I see being a nurse alone as a huge weight to bare, and with the COVID-19 pandemic on top of that, I know it has to be overwhelming. So, if we can bring lunch, drinks, or activities, especially things that the residents rarely get to do, we are going to be the ones to help. I like to think that our job when going to a long-term care community is to help make their lives easier. I love getting to be the person that they can call to help."
"I love to be someone that long-term care communities know they can come to and I’ll be the one to be there for them, no matter what.” - Taylor Hyde, Centric Home Health and Hospice