Tami Vukonich, RN, wouldn’t change anything about her job as a nurse at Solvay Hospice House in Duluth, MN. What she would change, however, is the general misconception people have about end-of-life care. “There is a stigma surrounding hospice care,” Vukonich says. “People think it’s about dying, when really it’s about living the best life possible during your final days.”
Although awareness about hospice care is growing, many myths still persist. Here are four common misunderstandings nurses like Vukonich are working to dispel.
Myth: Hospice Care Means Giving Up Hope
During the course of a life-limiting illness or terminal disease, many people redefine what hope means to them. Rather than hoping for a cure, many hope to live life pain-free, to spend as much time as possible with loved ones, to dance with a spouse, to hear a favorite piece of music or read a beloved book. When patients enter hospice care, they don’t give up these hopes. In fact, part of what Vukonich and her fellow co-workers do at Solvay is ensure these hopes are realized.
Myth: Hospice Care Does Not Provide Medical Treatment
“Hospice is a holistic approach,” Vukonich says. “It’s about caring for the whole patient.” Because the individual – and family – are at the center of the care-planning process, hospice provides high-quality pain management and symptom control with the goal of making the patient as comfortable as possible. What’s more, patients also receive spiritual and emotional support and care.
Myth: Families Can’t be Part of Hospice Care
Ask any Solvay staff about the care provided at the facility, and they will talk about how families are an essential, integral part of the end-of-life process. “We not only take care of the patient and their medical and spiritual needs, but also the family,” Vukonich says. “For most of them, this is a new experience, and we help guide them through so they know what to expect.” Part of this care includes a team approach, utilizing things like bereavement services when needed.
Myth: Hospice Care Facilities Don’t Provide Respite Care
Solvay offers respite care, which provides a much-needed break for someone caring for a terminally ill loved one at home. “Entrusting the care of a loved one to someone else can be a scary thing for families,” Vukonich says. “But I recommend people come in for a tour to meet the staff and see the homey, inviting environment at Solvay.”
Vukonich hopes people will understand that the goal of hospice is not to focus on death, but rather on life and supporting families through the process.
About Solvay Hospice House
To help Solvay continue its mission of providing compassionate end-of-life care, please consider a gift to the Solvay Legacy Fund. Learn more here, or call the Miller-Dwan Foundation office at 218-786-5829.