Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The POWER of Pet Therapy

The POWER of Pet Therapy

Carol Mestemacher, Hospice of Southern Illinois’ Volunteer, and her partner, Magnum, Facility Dog at Hospice of Southern Illinois’ Hospice Home, Relais Bonne Eau, visited over 20 seniors at the Millstadt Senior Center on May 4th to present “The POWER of Pet Therapy".  The shared their knowledge and wonderful experiences in pet therapy.  Trained by CHAMP Assistance Dogs, Magnum brings joy and comfort wherever he goes.  Regardless of a health or age, pet therapy has the power to positively impact people both physically and emotionally.  Carol and Magnum told heartwarming stories about their work with patients, families and the communities they serve.  Finally, they explained their volunteer work for Hospice of Southern Illinois and how pet therapy brings a special element to the end-of-life journey for patients and their family alike. The presentation was held outside on the front porch with an amazing breeze on a beautiful day!

Magnum and Carol are a certified Facility Dog Team and therapy Dog Team with CHAMP Assistance Dogs. They visit patients on a daily basis at the Hospice Home. Magnum and Carol work to promote the mission of Hospice of Southern Illinois: to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their loved ones touched by a terminal illness.
Hospice of Southern Illinois is your community not-for-profit hospice program serving 27 counties in southern Illinois since 1981. Our commitment at Hospice of Southern Illinois is to be with our patients and their loved ones through the changing needs of the end-of-life process and the grief experience. For more information about Hospice of Southern Illinois or Pet Therapy, visit our website,, or call, 618-235-1703.


What Caregivers Need to Know About Hospice

An Aging Population: Roles are Reversing
What Caregivers Need to Know About Hospice

Baby boomers, a term that describes those born in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, are finding themselves in the role of caregivers for their parents. They are now responsible for helping assist their parents with day-to-day activities, healthcare decisions, and financial planning. They might be thinking, “When did I switch from child to caregiver?” As their parents age, baby boomers are faced with making decisions and getting educated on topics they haven’t needed to consider in the past, hospice being one of them. Everyone should consider healthcare options and determine healthcare wishes before they need them to ensure respect and dignity at the end-of-life. The following considerations will help lead baby boomers and their aging parents in the right direction when faced with terminal illness or end-of-life decisions. 
Just like you choose your dentist, pharmacy, and doctor, you can also choose your hospice provider to ensure a proper fit for each individual person or family. Hospice is a special healthcare option for individuals touched by a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months or less to live. All hospices offer a similar philosophy and are regulated by Medicare. Each hospice organization has special services that make them unique. For example, Hospice of Southern Illinois has an on-staff, full-time Medical Director, Dr. Ellen Middendorf, who provides our patients with a doctor whose only practice and focus is on Hospice of Southern Illinois’ patients end-of-life needs; our employees direct access to a physician for on-the-spot medication and symptom consultation; and our community as an advocate for end-of-life options. We also have several other programs and services including the We Honor Veterans partnership, a Hospice Home in Edwardsville, Illinois, and exclusively providing hospice care since 1981.  
As a hospice provider, the largest struggle Hospice of Southern Illinois hears from families after their loved one has passed is, “We wish we would have chosen hospice sooner.” We wish we could have helped them sooner. It is a misconception that choosing hospice is giving up. Really, it means choosing end-of-life care that foregoes aggressive treatments. Some are not aware every medication, piece of equipment, and all medical needs related to the hospice diagnosis are covered at no cost under the Hospice Medicare Benefit. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance often provide reimbursement for the costs. Generous support from fundraisers and donations allow Hospice of Southern Illinois, a not-for-profit hospice, to provide care in the absence of insurance coverage. In addition to saving families money, caregiver support is another valued benefit of hospice services.
When a physician tells a loved one they have a terminal diagnosis and that hospice needs to be called, it is not easy as you could imagine. The emotions become overwhelming. After that conversation, everything the patient and caregiver hear about how hospice can help most likely is not heard. Hospice of Southern Illinois is committed to patients and families through the dying process and grief experience. We want to get symptoms under control, provide volunteers to visit with patients, offer counseling services for peace of mind, and support and educate the caregiver to release some of the caregiver stress to be more of the family role they want to be.  

The most important thing for caregivers and their aging parents to remember is no one has to go through the end-of-life journey alone. We understand this is one of the most emotional journeys you will experience. Hospice of Southern Illinois can make sure patients die with dignity, respect, and comfort they deserve and want. Hospice of Southern Illinois’ mission is to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their loved ones touched by a terminal illness. For more information, visit

Hospice Nurse’s Role

A Hospice Nurse’s Role in Different Healthcare Settings
In honor of National Nurses Week, May 6th-12th, addressing roles of nurses in hospice care can help others understand how hospice care will benefit end-of-life patients in their home-like setting: the personal home, long term care facility, assisted living community, hospital, or in-patient residence. Nurses play an integral role in caring for the hospice patients including visiting patients for an initial assessment, planning care visits, determining medication and equipment needs, and working with patients and families on their goals of care. No matter what setting best meets the needs of patients and families, hospice nurses collaborate with the caregivers or healthcare facility’s employees to ensure their pain and symptoms are controlled during their end-of-life journey for a more peaceful experience. 
Personal Home: In the private home, the family is the primary caregiver. Nurses provide intermittent care with scheduled visits determined in the goals of care meeting from an inter-disciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, hospice aides, and volunteers. The nurse can update the family on what to expect in the coming months or days; how to respond to physical or emotional changes; educate them on medication and equipment needs; and order equipment as needed to ensure the comfort of the patient.

Long Term Care Facility: Hospice nurses collaborate with nursing facility employees to offer added support to their team. The visits are scheduled much like in the private home. The primary caregiver, however, is usually the long term care facility employee due to a higher level of care needed for a patient. Nurses communicate with the facility employees to ensure, in addition to the excellent care they get from the facility employees, the specialized care received from hospice nurse is supporting both the patients and the facility.

Assisted Living: Hospice care is an extension of the care already provided by the Assisted Living Community. Hospice nurses assist with changes in condition, family dynamics, and impending death with regularly scheduled visits determined by the goals of care meeting.
Hospital: In order to receive hospice care in the hospital, also known as general in-patient services, patients need to meet specific criteria as determined by a physician. During the stay in the hospital, a hospice nurse would work with the hospital staff to control symptoms to ensure patient comfort.

Hospice Home or In-Patient Residence: Normally, the hospice nurse goes to the patient in their home-like setting. There are also hospice homes or in-patient residences that provide 24-hour care for patients who have a need for a higher level of care to allow the family to remain family and not a caregiver­­. These homes are unique. While many may prefer to live their final days in the comfort of their own home, for many reasons, this may not be possible or practical. A hospice home offers that home-like setting with the specialized nursing care that is best for the needs and wishes of the patient at the end-of-life.

Hospice of Southern Illinois is your community not-for-profit hospice serving 27 southern Illinois counties since 1981. Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their loved ones touched by a terminal illness. On behalf of Hospice of Southern Illinois, we want to thank all the nurses who dedicate so much time and compassion to their patients.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Doctors' Day

Monday, March 30th, is Doctors’ Day. Doctors across the country work hard every day to make people healthier and happier. There are so many types of doctors and we want to take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication to their studies, their passion for their patients, and their day-to-day work of making people better.
In hospice care, Medicare requires oversight by a doctor. At Hospice of Southern Illinois, we have our very own on-staff, full-time Medical Director, Dr. Ellen Middendorf, who provides our patients with a doctor whose only practice and focus is on Hospice of Southern Illinois’ patients end-of-life needs; our employees direct access to a physician for on-the-spot medication and symptom consultation; and our community as an advocate for end-of-life options. In addition to Dr. Middendorf, we have a team of part-time Medical Directors to assist, manage, and advocate for the patients and families at Hospice of Southern Illinois. We are proud to say we set the bar for hospice care in the community to ensure patients and families are getting the end-of-life care they deserve.

Thank you to our medical directors and all the doctors in southern Illinois for your service to the communities we serve! What you do really improves the quality of life for people in so many ways. To learn more about hospice care or our team of medical directors, you can contact Hospice of Southern Illinois at 800-233-1708 or visit our website,

There comes a time… for us to serve you.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hospice of Southern Illinois Saves the Day

At Hospice of Southern Illinois, the community education team is always thinking of new ways to educate the community and spread our mission, to enhance the quality of life of individuals and their loved ones touched by a terminal illness. We never thought this nifty little item would save the day for one of our fellow community healthcare providers. It just shows the power of a  little burgundy and a phone number. Thank you Kim for sharing your great story with our readers!

A little over a year ago, Hospice of Southern Illinois came by my office to drop off a very cute business card holder that was to attach to the back of my phone.  I almost didn’t put it on, because I was just sure I wouldn’t use it to tell the truth!  I did, and then off I went.

A few weeks later, I went to Colorado for a little vacation.  My best friend  and I had a fantastic week. On the last full day we had we took a picnic up the mountain!  We stopped and took picture of little creeks, elk, and deer all along the way.  It was a perfect day, until we got to her house. I was packing to leave for the next day.  I went to get my phone to call my children, and guess what? No phone!!!  I was frantic, of course, and looked all over – the house, my pockets, the car, driveway, etc.  Nothing.  We got back in the car and drove back up the mountain and spent two hours retracing our steps until it was dark.

The next day, I called my phone service and had it turned off.  We were just about to leave for some coffee when I remembered the lovely business card holder on the back of my phone!  I called them from my friend’s phone and explained my situation.  All of a sudden, the woman on the other end starting laughing!  She said “Well, you’re not going to believe this, but we just got a call from a woman in Colorado who has your phone!!! She left her number in case you called!”  Needless to say, I was thrilled!  I called her and we agreed to meet about halfway, which was about 45 minutes away.  Unfortunately, it did turn out that she found it on her PRIVATE lane that we had driven up just to get some pictures (ok, blame it on the wine!), but she thought it was such a good story that she only said, “You’re lucky I didn’t see you that day when I had my gun!”  Yikes! 
Happy ending with this happy girl and her FABULOUS business card holder from Hospice of Southern Illinois!
Kim Patterson,
Guest Blogger from The Colonnade Senior Living

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Happy New Year

For many, the new year is a time to renew, refresh, and reflect. We want to take this time to thank you! Thank you for the many memories, support, and most importantly, trusting us with the care of your loved one. We appreciate everything you do for us and we are honored provide excellent hospice care to you and your loved ones.

Having trouble viewing? Click this link to watch: 
Wishing you the very best in the new year!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Black Friday. Cyber Monday. #GIVINGTUESDAY

           Hospice of Southern Illinois has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving back that will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners – charities, families, businesses and individuals – to transform how people think talk about, and participate in the giving season. Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to charities and causes they support and help create a better world. Taking place
December 2, 2014 – the Tuesday after Thanksgiving - #GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a national moment around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are, today synonymous with holiday shopping.
Consider Hospice of Southern Illinois as not-for-profit of choice to give to this holiday season. You can become a volunteer, apply to join our team, attend an event, or donate online at or call 1-800-233-1708. You can also download our app and donate right from your cell phone. Your gift will help us continue our mission to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their loved ones touched by a terminal illness. Please help us spread the word about #GivingTuesday and the true meaning of the holiday season!
Seeing an opportunity to channel the generous spirit of the holiday season to inspire action around charitable giving, a group of friends and partners, led by the 92nd Street Y (92Y), came together to find ways to promote and celebrate the great American tradition of giving. Thought leaders in philanthropy, social media and grassroots organizing joined with 92Y to explore what is working in modern philanthropy and how to expand these innovations throughout the philanthropic sector. The concept gained steam, and with the help of the United Nations Foundation and other founding partners, more than 10,000 organizations have joined the movement and are providing creative ways people can embrace #GivingTuesday and collaborate in their giving efforts to create more meaningful results.
Hospice of Southern Illinois is committed to being with our patients and their loved ones through the changing needs of the end-of-life process and the grief experience. For more information contact Christine Litteken, 618-235-1703 or, or visit


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What does compassionate care mean?

"Compassion" is a word that is used commonly to describe hospice care. But what does compassion really mean? According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “compassion is a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.” Hospice care provides just that. With a mission “to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their loved ones touched by a terminal illness," compassion defines the mission of Hospice of Southern Illinois.

Compassion is the person who visits a family in crisis at 2 a.m. Compassion is a person who stays an extra hour to calm a worried child. Compassion is holding someone’s hand when no one else is there. Hospice of Southern Illinois wants to help our patients and families. Here are some examples describing how Hospice of Southern Illinois provides compassionate care:

·         Patients and families are our number one priority. We have special programs, like the We Honor Veterans partnership, to extend to patients and families to give them a personalized hospice experience catered to their needs and wishes.
·         Physicians work together to make sure patients’ wishes are carried out.
·         Nurses take time to educate patients and families about giving medications, how to care for a patient in their home, and what to expect in the future, which can relieve patients’ pain and reduce some families’ fear.
·         Social Workers/Counselors prepare patients and families for the stress and emotions that are in the journey ahead. They lend a listening ear to concerns and feelings at any stage of the end-of-life journey.
·         Bereavement counselors, in addition to routine follow-up after the loved one's death, reconnect with families on special occasions and holidays, because those times can be especially hard for people who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
·         Volunteers offer companionship and can allow for caregiver relief so the family can function as a unit and stay united during a difficult time.
·         Support staff works hard to make sure patients and families get the care they are entitled to regardless of age or ability to pay through education, community involvement, fundraising, and supporting daily operations.

Compassionate care is a team effort that takes passionate, dedicated and warm people. These people work together to provide the best end of life care possible, so no one goes through the dying process alone.

There comes a time... for compassionate care.  
Learn about Hospice of Southern Illinois, getting hospice services, and having your questions answered. Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 800-233-1708 or visit our website for more information, www.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Three Things You Thought You Knew About Hospice

Three Things You Thought You Knew About Hospice

Hospice is often and unfortunately misrepresented to the general public. Often seen as the people who “come at the very end” or when someone is “giving up”, hospice is very much the opposite.

1.       Did you know hospice services can be utilized for up to 6 months?

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s NHPCO’s Facts and Figures on Hospice, “The median length of service in 2012 was 18.7 days. This means that half of hospice patients received care for less than three weeks. The average length of service increased from 69.1 days in 2011 to 71.8 in 2012.” These statistics tell us that a large percentage of patients are not receiving the full benefits of hospice care. Although we are seeing a slight increase in the average length of service, why don’t we see more people utilizing the hospice benefit longer? Some could be attributed to disease criteria, acceptance, or access to care. If patients, however, had 6 months to fully reflect and experience their end-of-life journey, maybe more people would have the opportunity to die their way: with dignity and grace.

2.       Choosing quality of life does not mean giving up.

When people elect their hospice benefit, it definitely doesn’t mean they are “giving up”. It can be hard for family to see that.  Their mind says, “Treatment means fighting for life”. Consider weighing the pain, suffering, and symptoms that may be associated with treatment. Choosing to forego curative treatments could alleviate certain stressors, symptoms and expenses. This is different than giving up. This is simply choosing quality of life, which take tremendous courage. Celebrate that decision and celebrate the time there is left with loved ones, while feeling as good as possible.

3.       Dying can be peaceful and graceful.

Death is very sad to accept and discuss. It is, however, unavoidable that we will all die. It is difficult to accept and reflect on this time and plan for a peaceful and graceful journey. Further, it is definitely not easy to understand how dying can be peaceful and graceful, but it is possible. Hospice of Southern Illinois can make it easier to understand, especially the longer the service is utilized. Nurses and hospice aides can address the physical/medical needs of patients; the counseling team can address emotional and spiritual wishes of the patient and family; and volunteers can provide companionship and relief of caregiving to let the family focus on being a family during the important time that is left. All members of the team are instrumental in assisting the patient and their family to honor the goals of care until the end of their journey. When the goals of care are honored, dying then becomes more peaceful and graceful.
Not all Hospices are the same. Ask for Hospice of Southern Illinois by name. 
Learn about Hospice of Southern Illinois, getting hospice services, and having your questions answered. Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 800-233-1708 or visit our website for more information, www. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Step-By-Step Guide: How To Get Hospice Services

A Step-By-Step Guide: How To Get Hospice Services.

Hospice care is a specialized healthcare option for someone with a terminal illness that wants no further aggressive treatment or is not a candidate for curative treatment. Not only can hospice help patients, but it includes their family as well. Below are eligibility guidelines set forth by Medicare Regulations. If a person is not sure if they can get hospice services, Hospice of Southern Illinois is available to answer questions with no obligation. No one has to go through the end-of-life journey alone. Please review this step-by-step guide of what to expect when you call for hospice services.

1. Eligibility.
  • A prognosis of 6 months or less, if the disease takes its regular scientific course. No one really knows a definite time frame. 
  • Curative treatment is no longer the patients’ choice or option. (Treatment is not always going to make a person better. Sometimes patients decide not to continue with expensive or experimental treatment options, but prefer to focus on quality of life and control of symptoms.)
  • Comfort care, symptom management, and goals of care are the primary focus. (Oftentimes, pain is one of the most severe symptoms hospice can help control. Hospice also helps treat wounds, evaluate medications, assist with personal care, and address emotional needs.)
2. Call today to set up an appointment.
Although anyone can make a referral, there are three people you can call to complete a referral to hospice. Call your primary care physician, your specialist physician, or call Hospice of Southern Illinois directly, because a doctor’s order is required to get hospice services. Making an appointment is as easy as calling to schedule an informational talk with Hospice of Southern Illinois to review hospice services.

3. Ask questions of yourself.
There are many questions that may come to mind or decisions that need to be made when you are considering hospice services. Hospice of Southern Illinois can help you with these questions and answer many more that may arise in an informational meeting and/or assessment. Ask yourself:
  • “What concerns do I have about what lies ahead?”
  •  “How do I want to spend my time as medical treatments become limited?”

4. Receive an informational meeting and/or assessment.
A hospice nurse or representative will come out and review the hospice eligibility requirements, assess the patient and their diagnosis, and order medical equipment and medications needed. They will also discuss the goals of care determined by the patient and family. The hospice team is made up of physicians, nurses, hospice aides, social workers, bereavement counselors and volunteers that work with the patient and family to achieve those goals.

5. Your first visit.
Within one day after your informational meeting and assessment, a nurse will come out to visit (unless the patient and family requests otherwise). The nurse will address physical and emotional needs of the patient, review medical equipment and medications for effectiveness, and see if the patient or family needs anything before the next scheduled visit. The main thing to remember during these visits is to be honest and share any concerns because you are in charge of your healthcare and end-of-life wishes. Hospice of Southern Illinois is here to help make sure they are carried out.

Not all Hospices are the same. Ask for Hospice of Southern Illinois by name. 
Learn about Hospice of Southern Illinois, getting hospice services, and having your questions answered. Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 800-233-1708 or visit our website for more information, www.