Friday, September 18, 2020

UC Davis Hospice: Bringing Comfort and Smiles to Hospice Patients During COVID-19

Even during a public health crisis, hospice and palliative care professionals rise to the challenge of providing compassionate, person-centered care in the community. UC Davis Hospice shares how their outreach to the community led to new resources and comforting, personal touches for their patients. 

When COVID-19 precautions shut down our in-person volunteer program, UC Davis Hospice began looking for creative ways to provide comfort and smiles to our patients. With our hospice volunteers busy making cards and offering telephonic support to patients, we expanded our reach to the community to offer ways they could help support UC Davis Hospice. The response we have received from the community has been truly amazing.

Erin Bjork, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator and mom of two teenagers, knew that many high school students needed virtual ways to fulfill community service hours during this time of COVID-19 restrictions. After reaching out to several local high schools, over 20 students responded wanting to help. The students quickly got to work making cloth face masks, homemade cards, care packages of comfort items, COVID-19 safety kits, and fleece tie blankets. Our patients have been so grateful and touched to receive these items from our local teens. Andrew Condrin, a high school senior who made fleece tie blankets and care packages, said “I didn’t know much about hospice care at first, but during my project, I learned how hospice helps give patients a peaceful death. I’m glad I could donate to a good cause that comforts people during the end of their lives.” 

High school students delivering care packages

By further networking within the Sacramento community and on, UC Davis Hospice has received donations of fidget blankets for dementia patients, custom bracelets with inspirational sayings, and cloth face masks. An organization called Alice’s Embrace reached out at the beginning of the pandemic to offer beautiful, hand-knit blankets for our hospice patients. We have given out more than 60 Alice’s Embrace blankets to our patients, who have been so grateful to receive these handmade gifts.

Social worker Tiffany delivering Alice’s Embrace blankets

A community member also donated several handmade hospital gowns in beautiful patterns and colors for our hospice patients. “Patients and families love the gowns!” said Tiffany Pulsipher, hospice social worker. “We had a patient who did not want to be in anything else during her time here. This is such a great way to both keep the patients comfortable and to allow the family to have something very special and personal to take home. The gowns and Alice’s Embrace blankets are an important touch that inpatient hospice can provide.”

Another special touch that UC Davis provides is through our partnership with The Petal Connection. The Petal Connection donates lovely floral bouquets twice per month to UC Davis Hospice. The staff love the smiles and joy that these flowers bring to the hospice patients. 

Petal Connection flowers being delivered to UC Davis Hospice

In the middle of the pandemic, hospice nurse Deborah Watson earned the prestigious Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses for her development of the inpatient hospice program, becoming the face of compassion and caring for this new program. Our inpatient hospice team has created “caring bags” filled with goodies and snacks for those on inpatient hospice. Plans are in the works to expand our caring bag offerings to include personal care items, which will help families who are staying in the hospital around the clock to be with their loved ones. The inpatient team will also be launching a handprint project for our patients, providing families with a framed handprint to keep as a memento when their loved one passes.

The engagement and enthusiasm from our staff and community members have been truly inspiring during the pandemic. We are excited to find new ways to further support our patients!

If you would like to share the creative ways your hospice and palliative care team is caring for patients amid the COVID-19 crisis, please send us your photos and stories so you can be featured in the #hapcFacesOfCaring campaign.  


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