Earlier this week, we introduced you to Kimberly Paul, Vice President of Communications & Outreach for Lower Cape Fear Hospice & LifeCareCenter. Kimberly has created a health care power of attorney and a living will and has made sure her friends and family are all aware of her choices. Considering that approximately 60% of people who come into Hospice Care have not even started to discuss their wishes, Kimberly believes it’s important to lead by example.
“People think that Hospice is about death, but they’re wrong. Hospice has nothing to do with dying; it’s about living well,” explains Kimberly. “Even when you look at all of the recommended legal documents, only one document deals with your passing. That’s your will. Every other document pertains to your choices while you live. What do you want your end of days to be like? Why wouldn’t you want the best for yourself? My own personal philosophy is that I want to live my life and not fight for my life. I make it a habit to revisit my living will and health care power of attorney at least once a year. I review it on or around my birthday to determine if I want to make any changes or updates.”
As a non-profit, the organization believes in educating people about their choices, and Kimberly’s mission is to make sure that everyone realizes that Hospice is an option at the end of one’s life. Kimberly is quick to point out that 85% of hospice patients never see the inside of a care center, nursing home or hospital. They choose to stay at home with their care. Everyone involved with a patient is focused on providing the things that mean the most to him or her. For example, continues Kimberly: “If we have a patient who has gone to Hardee’s for breakfast every morning at 7:15 am for the past ten years, we figure out how we can help him do that. If we can’t get him there, how can we bring that breakfast to him?”
Hospice can even provide services to those already in rest homes, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The goal is to enhance the experience of the patient wherever he or she may be. While the staff to patient ratio in such facilities can range from 1:5 to 1:9, Hospice volunteers partner with staff to provide additional one-on-one comfort to patients. It could be anything . . . painting fingernails or reading the paper aloud.
So, where do these volunteers come from? Actually, about 85% of Hospice volunteers have already been served by Hospice, a statistic that speaks volumes about the service Hospice provides. There is a strict policy, however, to protect surviving loved ones. Family members and close friends who have been served by Hospice are not permitted to volunteer for the first thirteen months after a loved one dies.
During those thirteen months, Hospice provides bereavement workshops and counseling to help the living create a new foundation and move beyond death. Hospice believes in ensuring that family members are emotionally ready for whatever they do next, including volunteering within the organization.
The passion for Hospice which the volunteers show emanates just as brightly from Kimberly and the work she does. She jokes that her friends thinks she’s a little bit crazy because even while engaged in social activities, Kimberly often gets involved in conversations about Hospice care. “I’m just that passionate about this work,” she explains, “I strongly believe in it.”