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Published on June 14, 2019

three musicians playing a harp, violin and flute

Many Services Make Up Hospice Specialty Care

Most people are surprised to learn the depth of special features that can accompany the care their loved one gets while in hospice care.

From music and art to therapy dogs, along with massage and fulfilling wishes – hospice professionals and the volunteers who augment their care bring patients many rich experiences.

“While we cannot offer every service at every site, we can bring a lot of joy and satisfaction to our hospice patients,” said Jill Nuebel, MSN, Avera@Home agency manager in Yankton, S.D. “We get a lot of help from generous volunteers who give so much with their passions for resourcefulness and compassion. We do our best to provide experiences for those in our care.”

Making Connections through Song and Creation

Nuebel said volunteers play many key roles in the ministry of hospice. Some may bring unique gifts to the people they serve.

“We offer a wide range of comfort therapies, and it is rewarding for both the patients and those who provide these skills and a desire to share them,” she said. “Many of our approaches only exist because of the generous donors to various Avera foundations who support hospice as part of our health care ministry. It’s amazing to find these talented people who give without hesitation.”

Musical performances, especially ones featuring piano, harp and stringed instruments are quite common. Some Avera@Home hospice facilities offer certified musical therapists as well as performers. Art appreciation is another method to give patients those chances to enjoy a craft, paint a picture or devise the words to a poem or song.

“We have artists in residence at some facilities as well, and while it can be challenging to find hospice volunteers who can contribute, we often do. Those who begin a calling as part of our team usually remain for many years,” Nuebel said. “Death can be a scary thing for all of us, and it seems there are some people who have the perfect temperament for this role in care. We are blessed.”

Beyond The Room

Avera@Home Hospice also offers massage therapy for patients, and in many cases, this form of comfort therapy can truly aid those who may have limited mobility.

“It’s often more than just a relaxing time – it can be really therapeutic and alleviate pain for some patients,” she said. “We coordinate these therapies with the patient’s physician and we have provided massage for patients both at home and in our facility.”

The program’s “Last Wishes” efforts give people unique opportunities to take part in activities, some that may seem simple, but that make big differences for those on the receiving end of the wish.

“It can be simple, such as helping a patient get a haircut if they want one. We helped a patient have a Christmas meal with a daughter and granddaughter another time,” Nuebel said. “It might be a little birthday celebration or a ride in a car. Again we lift up those who donate to support these efforts.

Donors might not have time to volunteer, but when they contribute to hospice support, they can know they are making a person’s day brighter and lifting the spirits of those who may need it most.”

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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