We get a number of beautiful cards from families after their loved one dies, thanking our dedicated staff for everything they did to help Grandpa or Mom.
They’re often called “angels,” or told that the family wouldn’t know what to do if the care team hadn’t been there, which are really rewarding things to read. We appreciate the kind words that have been shared with us, and every opportunity to help families create new memories.
It’s common to see another comment in those cards from families, too. Many patients have regular visits with our nurses and home hospice aides, among others. While the schedule for those meetings depends on the patient’s needs, the visits are often pleasant ones.
Our staff makes sure the patient is in good health and answers any questions they may have. At the same time, the patient and our staff often chat about their lives: they mention what’s been happening with their family or share a special memory from their younger days.
In thank you cards, families often write that the patient looked forward to seeing the Centrica Care Navigators team. They appreciate the opportunity to stay engaged in the world.
Our staff looks forward to those visits too. Some of our care team, like our social worker, our music therapists, and our chaplains, can sit with patients and talk with them for longer periods of time, if that’s what they want to do. Many patients, of course, say the people they most enjoy visiting with are friends and family.
Centrica Care Navigators volunteers can help with that; Story Catcher is the name of our program where a visitor interviews a patient about their younger years or their time at a memorable event, and records their answers. From there, the conversation is turned into an audio file that the patient’s family can download and listen to at any time.
If a patient has some mobility — for example, they can move around in their own home — there’s more family and visitors can do to help them stay active and make their time together more memorable. Here are a few ideas.
Sit in the sunshine
Nearly everyone enjoys some time outside; you can sit in a chair and feel the sun on your skin. You can play a game outside or simply sit and talk in a different location. Even in the winter, when it’s too cold to be outdoors, you and your loved one in hospice care can enjoy looking at the snow through a window.
Help in the kitchen
Patients may want to lend a hand preparing a meal, especially if that’s the kind of thing they did for their family for decades before their time in hospice. There are many simple kitchen tasks that might be appropriate, from helping to set the table to mixing up a pitcher of lemonade.
Spend time with a pet
Here’s one that Centrica Care Navigators volunteers are known for. Our volunteers bring their dogs to visit hospice patients each week, and other families are able to bring their own animal in for a little while. Sometimes they pet the dog, or even cuddle with an animal. All this activity helps hospice patients feel more calm and gives them a reason to engage in life — so they can keep seeing their favorite pet.
Enjoy a craft project
This is another activity we see a lot, especially in patients who are a little more mobile and open to trying things. With a few simple art items like paintbrushes and construction paper, patients can create a work of art they can display or give as a gift.
Listen to a concert
Many people enjoy listening to music, like their favorite singer or (maybe most of all) a performance by a grandchild who’s learning to play an instrument. There’s no need to travel to an auditorium, either; many care facilities feature occasional visits by musicians, and there is always music available from a streaming service or on TV.
It doesn’t take a lot to have a special time with a loved one in hospice care. The most important thing isn’t what you’re doing, it’s that you’re doing it together: making memories that will last long after the hospice service comes to an end.
You can learn more about our services by exploring our website or calling Centrica Care Navigators at 269.345.0273.