While death is not a popular topic, the Hope Hospice team is trained to help people talk about it, prepare for it, and live the end-of-life experience in a meaningful way.
A team of more than 160 staff and volunteers support hospice patients and families in the community, according to Hope Hospice CEO Victoria Emmons, who admits that the need for more services continues.
"With our aging population, the need for quality, community-based hospice care continues to grow," Emmons said. "This year, we served over 500 hospice patients and supported over 1,500 community members in our Grief Support Center. Our individual and group grief support is open to everyone in the community, not just family members of our hospice patients."
Emmons said hospice care focuses on quality of life until the final moments.
"Our mission is to provide the highest quality, community-based care for patients and family members managing an end-of-life situation," she explained.
While hospice is designed for people in their final days, generally those with six months or less to live, Emmons said people in hospice programs often live longer than those pursuing curative treatment.
"Hospice care is unique because it addresses the emotional and spiritual needs in addition to the physical needs of patients," she said. "That means that patients often thrive. Family members receive emotional support and practical help, as well."
"Hope Hospice provides care regardless of insurance status or the ability to pay, so relies on contributions such as those raised by the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund," Emmons said. "Donations received through the Holiday Fund help us support primarily our grief programs, without which many families would struggle needlessly."
Hospice care is provided in a patient's home so that the individual can live life as fully as possible, with dignity, and surrounded by loved ones. The patient and family receive support and education from a Hope Hospice team, including a physician, nurse, home health aide, social worker, chaplain and homecare volunteer.
Working with the physician, the team develops a personal care plan that allows the patient to remain in control of his or her health care decisions. As death nears, advice and medical care is available 24 hours a day.
Volunteers are key members of the patient care team, including a videographer who interviews patients to record their life stories. Other volunteers provide special support services such as hair styling, pet therapy, vigil support, and singing with the Voices of Hope choir.
Hope Hospice also supports families with funeral planning and, for up to 18 months after the patient's death, bereavement support. The organization, one of the oldest in the country, provides opportunities throughout the year for people to remember their loved ones, including the annual Hike for Hope in May and Lights of the Valley: A Celebration of Light that will be held in Dublin this Sunday, Dec. 2.
"Lights of the Valley offers people a time to remember and honor loved ones amidst an ambience of beautiful music," Emmons said. "It promises to be a very special event."
On Tuesday, Dec 4, Hope Hospice is hosting workshops on handling the holidays for those grieving the loss of a loved one. For more information about Lights of the Valley, the grief workshop, Hike for Hope, hospice care or grief support, call (925) 829-8770 or visit www.hopehospice.com.
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