Wings of Change Publications

5 Easy Ways to Streamline Your Hospice Visits

5 Easy Ways to Streamline Your Hospice Visits

I know what you are thinking . . . because I have been there before - I. Don't. Have. Time. For. This.  As regulations change, the expectations for hospice professionals to manage their time, asses the patient for needs, provide emotional support, and document the visit WITH supporting evidence of hospice appropriateness places a lot of  pressure and demands on you.  So in the spirit of saving time, let's keep this simple:

1)  Coffee, with a side of organization

  OK, that's only part of it . . . with coffee (or your morning beverage of choice) in hand, give yourself about 10-15 minutes of solace and alone time to review your schedule and gather your thoughts and goals for the day.  As you know, even the best laid plans in hospice get derailed.  Building in some extra time will allow for delays and derailments.

2) Know Your Role

Recognize what IS yours, and what ISN'T yours.  What does that mean?  Let's be honest.  How many times have you, as a nurse, spent extra time listening to a patient and family member, thinking the whole time, "This is really something the social worker or chaplain has expertise in . . ."  This is not to say that you shouldn't be giving support.  As hospice professionals, it's who we are and it mostly comes organically from all of us.  However, good use of your team's skills can free you up to move onto your next patient, and allow the other team members to utilize their skills and expertise.  If you have a "talker" on your hands, planning a joint visit with the social worker or chaplain can be very helpful.  "Managing up" your teammates by explaining all that they can do for the patient and family (Emily the social worker has special training in communication . . .  Doug the chaplain does a great job at answering these questions about spirituality . . . ) can relieve you of feeling like you have to do it all, and helps the family understand the valuable resources that hospice provides.

3) Shed Some Light on the Visit Structure

Break out your visit into parts, and explain the visit structure to the family from the initial visit.  Are you thinking "I can't do that to my patients and families" right about now?  This may be a good time to think about a time when you didn't know what to expect, and the feeling of relief you had when someone mapped it out for you.  Explaining the structure of your visit helps the patient, the family, and you.  Have you ever had a visit where you were trying to do an assessment and the spouse is talking to you about her difficult, sleepless night at the same time?  Or when you are trying to teach the caregivers about medication changes and the children of the family come home from school and need attention?  When the family members know the flow of your visit, they can plan to be available as well.  Explain that teaching is a part of every visit, and that it is helpful to be available at the end of every visit to review goals, answer questions and teach family members about any care topics that apply to the patient's care.

4) Create a Central Caregiving Hub

Help the family during your initial visit where to keep the folder of information, and use the folder to keep notes and teaching materials.  All family members and team members should know where the folder is stored, and it can be referred to as often as needed by everyone on the caregiving team.  Store your patient education materials in this folder as well.

5) Equip Yourself with Effective Tools 

Use a teaching tool that is organized, up-to-date, and designed for ease-of-use.  The glaring truth here is that your time is extremely valuable, and many of the caregiver booklets available today are not as thorough or up-to-date as our industry now demands.  Flipping through a patient/family education booklet looking for the correct topic that you are teaching in the moment takes time from an already busy schedule.  Wings of Change Publications designs patient education materials with hospice professionals in mind.  We understand the times pressures, the survey stress, and the true desire to give the patient and family the very best care that we can.  Check out the ways that Nature Gave Us Butterflies can help you streamline your visit at Wings of Change Publications.  See you there!

Hospice Teaching Tools

Hospice Teaching Tools
By being streamlined and prepared in your patient education materials, you have the tools you need to teach from and to share with patients and families. This streamlined presentation of information, from admission through bereavement, allows you to be consistent in your education and support, as well as be prepared for the CAHPS Hospice Survey.

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The Raw Materials of Hospice

The Raw Materials of Hospice
In a service related industry, your raw materials are your professionals in the field. Your raw materials will be strong and serve your mission well for years to come. Your investment should always be in them.  Different solutions work for different teams, but the moral of the story here is this:  don't ever lose sight of the fact that the happier your team is, the better their care will be.

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Wings Unfurled

Wings Unfurled

It was the coldest day of the year.  You know the kind – when the wind whips your hair around and the bone-chilling cold stings your face in spite of your efforts to dress for the weather.  I unloaded my car into the tiny cabin in the woods, toting an armful of groceries in one arm while managing the dog leash of Paisley the Rhodesian Ridgeback in the other.  

At the urging of my business partner, I was taking a few days to retreat into the woods to ritualize a major life transition.  I got unpacked, changed into sweatpants, lit a fire and poured myself a glass of wine.   I sat down on the cozy couch, and my mind started asking the questions - the loudest and most forceful of them being: “What did you just do?” On December 31, 2014, I jumped off of a very comfortable and well-furnished cliff to test my wings of self-employment.  Many asked, “Why would you give up a good job like that – isn’t that risky?”   Why, yes – it was definitely risky.  It’s the riskiest thing I have ever done. But I had to.  I needed to.  I wanted to.  I worked in hospice, in a beautiful office, with kind coworkers and employees, and had worked my way to the assistant director’s role.  I finally had an office with a window – a common metric some folks use to define success.

But when the topic of my resignation would arise, most looked at me like I needed someone to take my temperature, or check to see if I was oriented to time and place. Life has a way of moving ahead, whether you are on that train or standing there watching it pull away from the station.  And for me, the desire to be on that train was driven by the knowledge that I had more that lived inside of me – and that this nice, comfy, safe office environment was not going to be the place where I would be able to unpack that creativity and thrive.   Survive, yes.  Thrive, no. I am a writer.  

Down to my bones, the very creation of a booklet or a blog post or a newsletter fills me with excitement and anticipation.  And while I have done my share of writing throughout my hospice years, there are more projects that live inside of me that I needed to breathe life into – that called my name, demanded my attention, and wouldn’t let up.  I needed flexibility.  I needed space.  I needed down time to free the creativity from the oppressive, binding walls of 9 to 5 (or, 8 to 6:30 – it’s hospice, you know).  When my writer archetype was asking permission to come out, she was usually squashed by the heels of my manager archetype who had a much more urgent list of “to-do” items that ruled the calendar.  

Working with hospice patients – and later supervising hospice professionals who were making a difference at the bedside – were foundational for me as I listened for years to the calling – and the calling, like a rejected child hanging her head low, waited patiently for me to listen.  I had convinced myself that I was too scared to take the leap of faith.  And then, the conundrum – I was also too scared to NOT take the leap of faith.   My heart’s longing was to create change and to make a difference.  Cliché, I know.  The more I lived, the more I knew that contentment was an inside job, and the road to a fulfilled life was to pass on the good will.  For me, that means that the knowledge held inside was, well - inside.  It doesn’t do much good unless I share it.  

I have seen first-hand the results of a well-informed and supported hospice patient and family, and knowing what to expect in a very difficult life transition can transform the death experience for all involved.  Sitting at the patient’s bedside as a hospice professional is sacred space.  This experience prepared me to move outside of my comfort zone and unfurl the wings that were given to me, and reach others who would benefit from the information in the booklets. 

What lights a fire in my soul?  Reaching thousands of people, nationwide and beyond, who have questions about the end-of-life issues, and writing the booklets with intentional attention to the delivery of information in a soft, compassionate, and inviting manner.  With the website, word of mouth, and the belief that this was a large part of my life’s purpose, my dream was launched and Wings of Change Publications was born.  

There is something to be said about throwing caution to the wind to launch a dream.  I trust that when one does the right thing, it will fly. You are a part of our flight!  Thank you for being a part of our unfurling and for visiting our site.  We have a lot of helpful ideas and articles in store for you!  Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, and sign up for our newsletters and future blog posts, Check back with us often.  We will build community here, and you’ll want to be a part of it.  We promise.