When you learn that someone you love needs hospice care, your first thoughts are of that person. But how you cope with a loved one’s end of life is important, too, which is why hospice provides for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their families.

With Kindred at Home's hospice care, it’s not just the patient who is monitored. The patient’s loved ones also are assessed from the moment the patient is admitted to the program, to make sure they have the resources and support they need, too.

Kristy Johnke, Kindred’s Regional Director of Social Programs for Home Care and Hospice in Texas, says not everyone fully understands what hospice is. Often, family members equate hospice care with “giving up,” mistakenly assuming that it means medical care is at an end and death is imminent.

Today’s hospice is a special type of care for people who have a life-limiting illness and understand that a cure for their illness is no longer a reality, and who have chosen to no longer seek aggressive treatment. At the center of hospice is the belief that every person has the right to die pain-free and with dignity and that patients and their families will receive the necessary support to allow patients to do so.

Family members may not be ready to hear or cope with the news, but their support and involvement is critical, Johnke says. Kindred at Home hospice professionals work with the patient and family to help them understand the goal of hospice and to make sure everyone involved receives the help they need. It is a team effort involving a multidisciplinary care team which includes nurses to help relieve the patient’s pain and manage symptoms, and social worker and spiritual care providers to assist both the patient and family with the emotional aspects of the situation.

With everyone working together, “the experience can be beautiful,” Johnke says. It allows patients the chance to say goodbye and to even do the things they wanted to before they die with the full support of their families.

Kindred at Home Hospice Care Supports the Whole Family, and tailors support for the specific needs and preferences of both patients and families, she says. The bereavement program can include home visits, phone calls and mailings. The program, Johnke notes, lasts for 13 months after the patient’s death and is designed to help families as they grieve, whether it’s coping with day-to-day issues or handling the first holidays without a loved one.

Johnke is particularly proud of Kindred at Home's volunteer program, which she says provides an invaluable service to patients and families. These compassionate volunteers may have experienced the death of a loved one themselves and they are ready to hold a hand, read a favorite book or even run errands. They step in when a family member needs a break, so families know there is always a caring individual at hand for the patient to turn to.

You can find out more about hospice and get answers to frequently asked questions on the Kindred at Home website. Kindred at Home is a proud member of We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Veterans Administration designed to empower hospice professionals to meet the unique needs of dying veterans.