Chapter Three: Hospice Care Providers

Chapter three is a video overview of the care provided by Seasons Hospice of Rochester MN in Olmsted County. This chapter looks at how the Seasons Hospice social workers, nurses, and doctors form a team that provides the care, resources, and education needed by patients and family members.

NARRATOR: A licensed social worker provides support for the patient and family and helps the family identify community resources to respond to the needs of their loved one.

JULIE ASSEF: --very closely together. So they will tell each other if there's anything new going on.

BEVERLY HAYNES: We have social workers that can help with resources within the community to allow that patient to stay in their own home. Whether it's Meals on Wheels, or Lifeline, so that the patient is safer alone in their own home, then we can help set those services up for the patient.

JULIE ASSEF: So you can go with a clear mind and know that Steve's got someone with him.

FAMILY MEMBER: Oh, that's wonderful. That would be wonderful.

JULIE ASSEF: The social worker's role is also to make sure that people have the support they need in coping with the changes that are happening, both physically and emotionally.

JANE KERSTEN: There was some one time that I recall that my mother was taking her medications inappropriately and was very confused. Did not want to be told what to do. And my dad was trying to help her. And she was resenting my dad. And I was trying to be involved. And it was just a very, very stressful, tense situation for all of us.

JANE KERSTEN: The home care nurse came that day. And I happened to be there with her. And she said, let me give the social worker a call. And she was there within just probably 10 minutes. And we were able to sit down as a family with the nurse and with the social worker. And the social worker was able to come up with a solution for all of us. And it just made such a difference just in our relationship from then on.

NURSE: Yes, Dr. Smith. I'm one of the nurses here at the Hospice House. And I'm calling on behalf of--

NARRATOR: The nursing staff works in concert with the patient's personal physician and coordinates the various aspects of care necessary to make each patient as comfortable as possible.

NURSE: --orders and medications. At this time--

TIM HANSEN: What they did for us was they took on the responsibility of dealing with all of the details of caring for someone like this. If we needed medical advice, they provided it. If we needed medicine, they provided it. If we needed equipment, they took care of it. All I did was call them, and they were there.

JULIE ASSEF: The doctor will take the calls from the hospice nurse, so they don't have to be waiting for that call back. And for many people, to know that that nurse is available to answer questions and address concerns-- you can just see their shoulders relaxing and them starting to feel the relief of knowing that they have a new kind of support that will be there for them.

NURSE: I brought something for you that Dr. miller suggested for shortness of breath.

NARRATOR: If the goal is to keep the patient at home, then the hospice team provides education and training to empower the family to provide the needed care.

FAMILY MEMBER: --how to use it?

NURSE: He's ordered an nebulizer. This is the medication here. Snap the top off.

FAMILY MEMBER: That top right there just breaks?

NURSE: Yup. Just break it off. Twist it off.

JULIE ASSEF: The nurses gave us instructions on how to best care for her and things to look for as the disease progressed. And we were able to work with the nurses in learning those techniques, and then be able to care for her during the rest of the day while the nurses weren't there.

But if circumstances ever changed, or there was a new situation that arose, we had no problem calling them immediately. And they would come and help us to find a way to make her comfortable again.

JULIE ASSEF: One of the nice things about hospice is that the hospice nurses are available to you by phone 24 hours a day.

NARRATOR: Since questions about care can come up or conditions change at any time, Seasons Hospice has nurses on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

JULIE ASSEF: Isn't that a nice thing to know?

FAMILY MEMBER: It's so reassuring to know that you can make a phone call and somebody will be there that could help.

JULIE ASSEF: When the nurses first came and met with the family to find out what our situation is and our needs, they took time to get to know the family, especially Kay.

And as they talked with my wife, they asked her, what are two characteristics that will best describe you? Kay just kind of shrugged her shoulders. And one of the nurses says, well, I sense in you strength of character and humility. And at that point, I kind of knew that they were there to help me make her as comfortable as possible.

And not only then, they continued on where they got to know my family, my mother-in-law, our six children. And they became friends with us, and were available whenever we needed them.

JANE KERSTEN: The nursing care at Seasons Hospice is one of the highlights of hospice care. The nurses are so caring. In addition to caring physically for my mom, they were just like friends to her. And they showed such interest in her life and our family.

The care was absolutely fantastic 24/7. I asked her which was her favorite nurse? She would say, every single one is wonderful.

JULIE ASSEF: I just am so amazed at how professional and friendly and helpful they are. I've just been so pleased with their openness to talking to me when I have something that I need to bring up. I can't imagine a better setting than where I am now.