Friday, August 21, 2020

Hoffmann Hospice’s “Everything is Going to be OK” Campaign

Even during a public health crisis, hospice and palliative care professionals rise to the challenge of providing compassionate, person-centered care in the community. Tami Varner, Development Assistant at Hoffmann Hospice in Bakersfield, CA, shares how they have used a public awareness campaign to spread positive messages and support community groups and businesses. 


Each of us has faced challenges and daily changes to our life that can leave us feeling a little lost. Sometimes a few words can make all the difference in someone’s day. When the pandemic began, we all felt immediately impacted and questioned how we could make a difference. The answer for us was one message of hope at a time. That inspired Hoffmann Hospice to create our “Everything is Going to be OK” campaign. 


In March, we created and began taking orders for our “Everything is Going to be OK” yard signs. The yard signs quickly caught on and spread throughout our community. To date, we’ve sold over 4,000 yard signs. We partnered with a local hat company and created hats and face coverings, so each order of those products supported a non-profit and a local business. We also just began taking orders for shirts. This was our first opportunity to pivot our fundraising strategy toward reaching out to donors virtually through social media, email, and texting. 


The impact the campaign has had on our community has been truly inspirational. There are entire neighborhoods with signs displayed on every yard. One local teacher incorporated the campaign in her virtual teachings and went on to write a children’s book, “Once Upon A Time There was COVID-19. A local pizza business has their staff wearing the shirts to encourage them and their customers, and our local KUZZ radio station has joined as ambassadors. The campaign has not only generated funding for our non-profit hospice, it allowed us to keep our staff engaged and working and created positivity in our community. 


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.  


Friday, August 14, 2020

Virtual Series Offers Tips to Parents to Help Children Who are Grieving 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. Hospice & Community Care created a unique way to help families work through the grief and loss children may feel due to COVID-19. 

In July of 2020, Hospice & Community Care of Rock Hill, South Carolina, launched an educational video series entitled Navigating Children’s Grief During Uncertain Times. The series was created with the help of local expert, Sarah Hopkins, MSW, of Winthrop University’s School of Social Work and a former hospice Bereavement Counselor. The videos are hosted by Sarah and discuss how to support children ages 6-12 years old through the many different losses that they may be experiencing due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. These video resources are free to the public and are available on the organization’s website. 

“After our Children’s Grief Camp was canceled in June due to Covid 19, we wanted to find an innovative way to offer support to our community,” says Director of Family Services Jenifer Crawford. “We were thrilled to be able to offer this resource to anyone caring for children during these uncertain times and were fortunate to have our local news channel interview us about the series.”

During the educational series, Sarah discusses how to work with children to accept the reality of the losses that they have faced and offers tips on how to discuss the losses with them. She also shares how to support children as they experience the pain that the losses may have imposed and will discuss what emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms of grief that you may be seeing with your child.  There is information on how to help your children adjust to their new world as they navigate their life during the pandemic.  Ms. Hopkins also offers tools for how to support children through the transition back to education.  The final is a Q&A featuring questions sent in by viewers during the first 5 weeks. 

“As an educator and grandparent of students in our local school districts, I have shared Hospice & Community Care’s video series with everyone who comes in contact with a child including teachers, pediatricians, after school and daycare centers, as well as other parents and grandparents," said Cindy Taubenkimel, Director of ParentSMART and the Sylvia Circle Family Learning Center. "The information presented in the videos certainly helps everyone who is providing care for a child as circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 health emergency are constantly changing. We, as caregivers, must educate ourselves in order to help our community’s youth process their feelings, questions and emotions. I am so appreciative to have a resource to share with caregivers during this uncertain time.”

The video series is available on Hospice & Community Care website.

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. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Hospice and Structural Racism

Don’t go there; please don’t go there, she thought to herself as her patient began to complain about the country going to hell because of Black people. Adding insult to injury, he ignored the obvious fact of her race—to him she was invisible, an “other.” Although hurt and angry she said nothing, knowing her supervisor would tell her, “Well, you know he is demented; we don’t want his family to fire us and choose another hospice.”

Hospice has a long tradition of providing person and family centered care for those who are dying. That’s as it should be. NHPCO’s website statement on structural racism and health inequities commits to eliminating structural racism that creates barriers to care for all. The organization demands “that every life be valued and respected.” Do these same principles apply to hospice service caregivers?

How does a hospice organization prepare and support its employees who experience patient and/or family bigotry (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia etc. and the intersection of these)? Would supervisors at your workplace respond as the one above? If so, what message is being sent to the hospice worker? Why should the staff suffer racist or other oppressive forms of abuse, in deference to a patient because he is dying?  What is being said about relative worth—about value and respect? And, how is focusing on the bottom line different than arguing slavery was a necessary evil for the sake of the economy? These questions warrant honest conversations.

Hospices are further challenged knowing a client’s preference for hospice caregivers based on race, ethnicity and gender leads to better outcomes and symptom management. Of course it does, don’t we all feel better when we have our way? Those of us who pursue social justice must ask at whose expense. Change will not come without pain, especially for those who assert superiority. Just as confederate flags must come down despite the blow to “southern pride,” the bigoted requests and behaviors of patients/families must not be tolerated. Otherwise, the status quo will remain, and staff on the receiving end of such inhumanity must continue to numb their souls. Is that a fair exchange for better outcomes and symptom management for the patient?

Hospice providers have a moral obligation to equally value the worker by empowering her to respond, “I understand that is how you feel but it’s not my view; please do not say those things to me.” Further, hospices must have clear equity policies that guide decision-making and offer training and support to staff when these inevitable indignities are visited upon them.

Let’s let patients and families know, “Although our hospice strongly supports patient preferences, we will not when they are based on bigotry. Would you like us to refer you elsewhere?”

 Eliminating structural racism requires making difficult decisions.

Robert A. Washington, PhD
Retired Hospice Clinical Director
Washington, DC