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C.A.R.E. - 2021-02-28

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CREATING A SAFE, PEACEFUL SPACE HOSPICE CARE SUPPORTS PATIENTS, CAREGIVERS

Support And Self Care

By Elayne Smith Lowe

When facing the final stage of cancer, finding the best care for end of life can help make those days as peaceful and comfortable as possible. “Hospice care is just a really gentle, loving form of medicine,” said Rachel Joyce, registered nurse and patient care manager at Ambercare, one of several organizations that provide hospice services in Santa Fe. Hospice is a specialized care for people in the last phase of incurable diseases, focusing on the quality of life for people and their caregivers. At Ambercare, similar to other hospice care providers, a team of medical, social and spiritual workers provide a holistic approach to a challenging time. “End of life is medical as well as spiritual and it couldn’t be more personal,” Joyce said. “Medicine can feel big and scary. Hospice is, like, cozy and grassroots. …It’s a patient-led process and a family-led process.” Joyce and the rest of a patient’s caregiving team work with the patient and their family to understand their needs and wishes. Instead of going to a hospital, patients can receive as much care and medical equipment as they need in their home. Social workers or chaplains help guide the family through the grief process, while doctors and nurses manage the patient’s symptoms. Patrick Salas, executive director at Ambercare, said the beauty of hospice care is in its ability to work with individuals and develop compassionate relationships. “We’re going to keep you clean, we’re going to keep you home, and we’re going to keep you pain free,” Salas said. “We’re at your beck and call. We’re coming to you; you don’t have to come to us.” The hospice care team also provides bereavement support to families after a patient dies. Joyce said even if a patient was in hospice for a short time, families can continue using their resources as they cope with their grief. The team trains with the Office of the Medical Investigator so they can pronounce death and then support families in funeral arrangements and equipment removal, Joyce said. This way, she said, keeps the process gentle and peaceful. “This work is more about life than it is death and that’s why it’s beautiful,” Joyce said. “At both ends of life we need connection and someone who sees us, who holds us, who cares for us.”

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