Hospice care utilizes a patient and family-centered approach designed to give you supportive care in the final phase of a terminal illness. The goal of hospice care is to focus on your comfort and quality of life, rather than cure, so that you may live each day as fully as possible in a setting of your choice with loved ones nearby. The VNH Hospice interdisciplinary team serves a very important role in making this happen. The team includes doctors, nurses, home health aides, medical social workers, spiritual care counselors, and trained volunteers who work together to address your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Your VNH Hospice team will work with you to develop a care plan designed to meet your individual needs for symptom management, while supporting your loved ones.
VNH Hospice is available for people facing serious and progressive illness who are focused on symptom management. Anyone can request a VNH Hospice informational session.
Referrals may come from the patient, family member, physician or other health care clinician. Call us to help determine whether VNH Hospice services are appropriate.
Our dedicated Hospice staff provides support to people living in nursing care settings, collaborating with long-term care staff, patients and families. We work in cooperation with facility staff to attend to physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs.
VNH Hospice is covered through Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance programs. VNH provides care for all, regardless of ability to pay.
Your current health care provider can continue to provide care or you may choose to have one of VNH’s Hospice Physicians. Both the health care provider and VNH’s Hospice Medical Director may work together to coordinate your medical care, especially when symptoms are difficult to manage. The VNH Hospice Medical Director is available as a resource to you, your caregivers, and your hospice team regarding your medical care.
Hospice Nurses are familiar with terminal illness and can guide you and your caregivers through what to expect and how to maximize comfort. They will coordinate your overall care plan, teach you and your caregivers how to take care of things on your own, provide hands-on-care, and give advice over the phone when necessary. During the duration of your hospice care, you are likely to receive care from nurses who perform the following functions:
Nurse Case Manager
The Hospice Nurse Case Manager is responsible for assessing and managing your overall plan of care. Once you are admitted, your Nurse Case Manager will do a complete assessment of your needs and fill the physician’s orders for your medication and equipment. You will also discuss which tasks you and your family do for yourself and which you need assistance with. Your Hospice Nurse Case Manager will regularly visit you and will begin the process of teaching you what you need to do on your own, and how to recognize the need to call for assistance.
The Triage Nurse is available to take phone calls from you and your caregivers 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Over the phone, the Triage Nurse will assess your situation and may give you and your caregiver instructions for symptom management or medical treatment. The Triage Nurse consults with the Hospice Medical Director and notifies the Nurse Case Manager if there’s a need for a visit.
Home Health Aide
The role of your Home Health Aide is to provide personal care. The care provided by your Home Health Aide is based on what you need and typically includes assistance with hygiene (bathing, dressing, and grooming), light housekeeping, assistance with laundry, and companionship.
Hospice Social Worker
The hospice social worker is available to assist you and your family with any number of practical or emotional issues related to end-of-life planning and care and is an integral part of your team. The social worker can assist you in the management of mental, emotional, family, and financial stressors that may arise during the dying process. They understand your treatment plan and can be a vocal advocate for your needs; they can assist you and your family in overcoming crisis situations; and they can connect you and your family to other support services in the area. The social worker can help you and your family fill out advance directives, help determine funeral arrangements, offer education about caregiving, and connect you and your family to community resources. Hospice social workers are advocates for patients and their families, and possess a deep knowledge of what their patients need and what resources are available within and outside of hospice settings to help them.
Spiritual Care Counselor
The role of your Spiritual Care Counselor is to support you emotionally and spiritually. A Spiritual Care Counselor will conduct a telephone intake to ask about your religious and spiritual background and to determine how best to help you and your family. If you do not identify yourself as religious, it does not exclude the possibility of support by our chaplain. This is a time when you may find yourself thinking about the meaning of your life, the things you still hope to accomplish and what you need to do to prepare yourself for the end of life. Our Spiritual Care Counselors can help guide you in life reviews, work through fears or concerns you may have and also help you celebrate the beauty and accomplishments in your life. They are also a wonderful source of support for your family members, friends, and caregivers and can help them with bereavement issues. Our bereavement support begins at admission and will continue on for a year following your death. Meeting your Spiritual Care Counselor early in the admission sets the foundation for a relationship of trust and ease that is invaluable throughout the hospice admission.
The primary role of the VNH volunteer is to offer companionship, emotional support, and respite for the caregiver and families wherever you reside. Our trained Hospice volunteers can provide many services for you and your family,
- Offering a calm and peaceful presence by “just being there” to listen or visit
- Providing respite by staying with you so family caregivers can take a break to run errands, go to an appointment or enjoy an activity outside of the home
- Reading you books, newspapers, or magazines
- Writing letters for you or document your life through reminiscence with your family/loved ones
- Playing card games, Scrabble, etc. with you
- Watching movies or TV
- Supporting your interests, such as music or crafting
- Heating up or prepare simple meals
- Reminding you to take medications
- Giving you wheelchair rides or go for a walk if you are ambulatory
- Runing errands, pick up groceries, prescriptions, library books, etc.
- Contacting the Hospice Hotline with a concern about a patient’s condition
Please note that there are also some tasks that volunteers are not permitted to do because of infection control, liability concerns, and VNH policy. You are welcome to contact the Hospice Volunteer Coordinator directly at 1-888-300-8853 if you have any questions or need clarification.
VNH Hospice Services
- Pain and symptom management at the end of life
- Emotional and spiritual support for both patients and families
- Coordination of available community services and end of life planning
- Home health aides for dressing, bathing, and tidying
- 24/7 nurse support by phone to help with changes in clinical status
To support the patient and the family who are faced with terminal illness.
To provide the highest quality pain and symptom management.
To address the unique physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and finance concerns which may be a part of a terminal illness.
To help the patient live fully through the last days of life.
Our sincerest, deepest appreciation for the incredible support you provided in our mom’s final days. Your care and kindness made it possible for us to honor her desire to be at home at the end of her life. You are all heroes in our lives. Many many thanks.”
Frequently asked questions
What is VNH Hospice?
VNH Hospice provides specialized medical care, symptom management, and emotional and spiritual support for people in the last stages of a terminal illness and their families.
When is VNH Hospice right for me?
When medical treatments have been exhausted and the burden of treatment outweighs the benefits, VNH Hospice can help to bring comfort and quality of life to you and your family. VNH Hospice allows you to receive medical care with a focus on comfort rather than cure, and provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
Do I have to wait for my physician to raise the possibility of VNH Hospice or can I raise it first?
Anyone can contact VNH Hospice. The patient and family should feel free to discuss VNH Hospice at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy, or friends. Call VNH Hospice any time to learn more about hospice.
Can I receive VNH Hospice on a trial basis?
Yes. It is a benefit you can revoke at any time without any penalty.
Is VNH Hospice covered by insurance?
VNH Hospice is covered by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in some states – including Vermont and New Hampshire – and by most private health insurance policies. VNH Hospice provides care for all, regardless of ability to pay.
Isn't VNH Hospice the same thing as "giving up"?
No. While the focus of VNH Hospice is care rather than cure, hospice is not intended for the last days of life only. In fact, VNH Hospice can be most effective for patients and families in the final months of life when patients and families can benefit from the range of services hospice provides.
Where is VNH Hospice delivered?
VNH Hospice services are delivered wherever the patient calls “home,” whether in his or her personal residence, in a nursing home, or in an assisted living facility.
Does VNH Hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
VNH Hospice provides continuing contact and support for family and friends for at least a year following the death of a loved one. In addition, VNH Hospice provides community bereavement and support groups for those who have experienced the death of a family member, a friend, or a loved one.