When a patient starts service with Centrica Care Navigators, they’re not alone. Right away, they meet their interdisciplinary group (IDG), the team of professionals who help them through an often challenging and complicated process — the team that helps them “navigate” these new experiences.
Who’s in an IDG?
According to Medicare, at a minimum there are four necessary professionals:
Many patients already have a personal physician, the doctor they go to first whenever there’s a health issue. Our physicians team with a patient’s personal physician to offer specialized end-of-life care, including comfort medication and knowledge about what happens during the death and dying process.
Like a hospice doctor, a registered nurse working with end-of-life care patients keeps a close eye on their health condition. There’s a big educational component to their work, too. Caregivers want to understand what’s happening to their loved one. Nurses can suggest ways caregivers can provide comfort and manage pain for a patient as well as explain the medications they’re using and why.
Caregivers for someone at the end of life have a lot of things to pay attention to: the physical and mental health of the patient they’re caring for, financial decisions, and everyone else in their lives, like children, spouses, and themselves, too. It’s a lot to be responsible for, and that’s why a social worker is a key member of the IDG.
A social worker specializing in end-of-life care can assist with things like finding a resource for nutritious food. Sometimes, though, they meet with a patient just to listen, to talk with them about how they’re feeling to try and identify needs they might not be putting into words.
A counselor is also there to listen and to help patients with their emotional and spiritual condition. Many are in the role of a spiritual guide (at Centrica Care Navigators, we call them chaplains). The goal of hospice is to help people live the last period of their life as comfortably as they can, while receiving compassionate care.
That can come in many forms. For those practicing religion, counseling can be sharing in prayer or Bible readings. Others may simply appreciate having another person to talk to. Some patients don’t feel they need a chaplain or counselor, but there’s one available if they change their mind.
If the patient desires, they can also have support from other members of the Centrica Care Navigators IDG.
While doctors and nurses are in regular contact with patients, a hospice aide is the person that may be their closest companion during their time in end-of-life care. Also called Certified Nursing Assistants or CNAs, hospice aides help with personal care (like bathing and changing bandages), monitoring health conditions, and simply spending time with patients.
Many patients look forward to visits from our music therapists. Sometimes a therapist will play and sing a patient’s favorite tunes. At other times the patient performs music with the therapist’s support. It’s all with the goal of keeping patients active and engaged in life for as long as they can.
Volunteers don’t hand out medication or manage treatment, but they’re a friendly face at a time many people need one. Our volunteer coordinators help identify men and women who can devote time each week or each month to activities like companionship, which can be as simple as sitting and talking with a patient, holding their hand, or watching TV together.
Other volunteers provide transportation for a patient for a doctor appointment, pet therapy — bringing their dog along to pet or to sit quietly with a patient — or offer respite, a chance for a caregiver to take a break for a little quiet time or to get a task done.
You can learn more about all the roles of the IDG by exploring our website or calling Centrica Care Navigators at 269.345.0273.