by Terry Rogers
With beautifully decorated private suites, unrestricted visiting hours and accommodations for family members to remain overnight, Delaware Hospice Center provides a home-like alternative to a hospital when a loved one needs a higher level of support. Located on Patriot’s Way near the Delaware Veteran’s Home and Boys & Girls Club, the Center is a 16-unit facility that provides short-term higher-level assistance than can be offered at home.
“We accept patients who have just been admitted to hospice care as well as transfers from home health care,” Debbie Taylor, RN, BA, Clinical Supervisor of Inpatient Services, said. “We offer an intense level of care as well as acute general inpatient care with a clinical staff that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Patients who enter our facility have the same team to help them that they do at home, from physicians to volunteers.”
During home or assisted living hospice care, patients may sometimes need adjustments to medication or additional treatments that may not be possible in the home. Some services may be difficult for the family to do in a home environment. The Delaware Hospice Center was designed to provide specialty care on a temporary basis until the patient improves enough to return home.
“It is important for people to understand that 50 percent of our patients improve enough to return home,” Luanne Holland, Medical Account Executive, explained. “We want to make it clear that this is not a “death house.” What we provide is peace of mind to the family that their loved one is getting the best medical care they can in a comfortable environment.”
Each suite of rooms has French doors that open into the beautifully landscaped courtyard surrounding the building. Beds and chairs are designed to allow those staying in the center to be rolled outside where they can enjoy fresh air and visit with family members. The facility is pet-friendly, allowing family members to bring the patient’s pet to visit whenever they choose to do so. Taylor explained that the center also has therapy animals who visit five days each week for the benefit of patients. There is a kitchen area where family members can cook their own foods while staying at the center with a loved one or to provide their loved one with foods they enjoy as they receive treatment. A child’s playroom and several comfortable living areas provide space where family members can take a break or discuss options in a relaxed setting. The facility offers a reflection room which can also be used as a chapel as well as a spa facility that is available for family members who are staying with loved ones and need to shower or freshen up.
“In fact, 80 percent of this center is for the family,” Holland said. “We have the space to accommodate large families. When my dad was here, I think half of Milford were in and out of the center to visit him. We have experts here that are not only trained to handle the needs of the patient, but also the family. Everyone grieves differently and we provide each person with the assistance they need to get through a difficult time. When I speak to groups, I often tell the story of my dad’s passing at the Center and I describe it as one of the absolute best experiences we could have had. Whether we are helping a family with a loved one at home or they are in the Center due to additional medical needs, we work as hard as we can to make sure the experience is as positive as it can possibly be.”
One of the reasons the Center is so important in hospice care is that many patients have multiple diagnoses which require multiple doctors and large quantities of medication. This can be daunting to a family at home who may have no medical training. This can lead to additional medical problems that require a more focused care. Rather than place the patient in a hospital, the Delaware Hospice Center allows them to improve in a more comfortable, home-like atmosphere.
“We also offer education,” Taylor said. “If a family member works, they can come here, take a shower, get something to eat and visit with their loved one who is staying at the Center. While they are here, they can learn more about the care their loved one needs. They can also work with grief counselors, join support groups or find other methods to work through the loss of their loved one. The ultimate goal is to get their loved one improved enough to return home or an assisted living facility where they can be surrounded by loved ones in a familiar setting.”
Delaware Hospice Center offers several types of programs including New Hope, Delaware Transitions, Delaware Palliative and Katie Bug, which is a pediatric hospice. Their goal is a continuum of care for the patient and the family.
“From the moment someone realizes help is needed, we want them to think of Delaware Hospice,” Taylor said. “I always say that I want people to look at me and not see the big “H” on my forehead for hospice but for help. We are a not-for-profit agency. We do take insurance, Medicare and Medicaid but we accept what insurance pays as full payment. We never bill the patient for anything not covered.”
Holland explained that there are other hospice options available but each family and patient may specifically request Delaware Hospice by name. The facility is open for tours and Holland is available to speak to groups about what Delaware Hospice does as well. For more information, call 800-838-9800.