Addressing the Spiritual Needs of Hospice Patients

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Updated June 25, 2018

The Alliance Hospice mission is, “is to understand and help guide our patients’ quest for a rewarding quality of life in their final days and to help their circle of family and friends support them in life and grieve for them in death. Alliance pledges to provide expert hospice care for the comfort and dignity of the terminally ill by addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. We strive to provide individuals facing death and grief expert care that provides a sense of personal worth.”

In our mission, we underscore the need to offer comfort and dignity to those in their end-of-life stage by attending to our patients’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs. These three areas of needs are very personal for each patient and family that we help, and we do our best to individualize our way of caring to meet these needs accordingly.

However, the notion of addressing spiritual needs is one that involves a deep level of thought. Understanding and assessing the spiritual needs of terminally-ill patients stems from the relationships that hospice staff cultivate and nurture. It is not uncommon for hospice care patients to seek spirituality and religion to help manage their feelings, even if they had not previously been religiously committed or affiliated. Sometimes, spirituality offers a degree of purpose that helps terminally-ill patients cope better during their end-of-life experience.

For patients seeking a deeper spiritual connection, there are hospice chaplains, or even their own religious leaders or clergy that can assist by spending time with them. At Alliance Hospice, we provide “Hospice Spiritual Care Coordinators” who provide non-denominational spiritual support to patients and families, and help with coordinating visits from local clergy if requested. Our hospice care staff help facilitate these needs while exercising a heightened degree of sensitivity to ensure the type of spiritual support that’s being sought.

About the Author 
R. Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

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Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions

Spotlight on Alliance Hospice Volunteer – Joe Lewis

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Updated June 25, 2018

It’s not too often that you encounter someone who has that rare selfless quality of committing their time to caring for patients during their end-of-life experience at hospice.   It takes a special kind of strength to invest time in taking care of people that you know are nearing their end-of-life, and nurturing a personal connection with them. At Alliance Hospice in Augusta, we are fortunate to have a very special volunteer by the name of Joe Lewis, who shares heartfelt compassion with our hospice patients.

Joe Lewis has been volunteering his time at Alliance Hospice for nearly four and half years. During that time, Joe has given the gift of compassion to dozens of hospice patients and their caregivers. After retiring from his career as a traveling engineer, Joe looked for something to do. His doctor, who was affiliated with Alliance Hospice, suggested that Joe explore volunteering at Alliance Hospice.

Since then, Joe has devoted much of his time caring for hospice patients. “When I read the bible to Alzheimer patients, I know that I reach them,” explains Joe. “One woman with end-stage Alzheimers was always in constant motion when awake. But when I would read the bible to her, she would settle down with her arms crossed over her chest and feel relaxed, and lay still listening.”

During his visits to nursing homes and personal homes, Joe reads to hospice patients who are not as aware, and connects on a meaningful level with patients in end-stages of illnesses who remain lucid. “Some of it tears at your heart, but I have several good rapports with patients that I speak with,” said Joe Lewis. “I sit and talk to them about the news, what’s been going on, what kind of work they did, things that happened in their lives, whatever makes them happy.”

Joe also provides a tremendous amount of much-needed relief to caregivers by staying with hospice patients for 2-3 hours at a time while their caregivers, often spouses or children, take a break.

Recently, Joe volunteered by helping a retired Baptist minister. “We’d sit and discuss the bible, different stories,” recalls Joe. “We had a good rapport there, it was kind of hard when he passed. He helped me more than I helped him.”

We are always in need of more kind-hearted volunteers like Joe to help us take care of our hospice patients, and I sincerely hope that Joe’s story will inspire others to lend a hand.

About the Author 

Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.

The Value of Grief Counseling

By R. Bruce Dalglish

Updated June 25, 2018

Grieving the loss of a loved one as a result of a terminal illness takes time, and is a very personal experience that is different for everyone. As part of hospice care, there is meaningful value in grief counseling.

Experienced grief counselors can help families, caregivers and friends with ways to cope with the passing of a loved one. Indeed, mourning a loved one is an important part of the healing process, and grief counselors provide compassionate support to help people find their way in their own time.

Although mourning over a loved one is a very personal process, many people share common feelings and often find validation of some of their feelings during grief counseling. This type of counseling helps people move through the many phases of grief over a period of time, ultimately tapping into their inner-strength and coping mechanisms nurtured through the counseling sessions and resources.

At Alliance Hospice, grief counseling is offered to patients, family and friends at no charge. These helpful bereavement counseling services are available during the first 13 months following the patient’s death and include ongoing phone support, counseling visits, support groups, mailing and memorial services.

About the Author 

Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Follow R. Bruce Dalglish on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.