Forty-eight nursing students learn about hospice care firsthand.
Through a collaborative program with Halcyon Hospice, the students spent three hours in a classroom training course at Piedmont College in Demorest, GA as part of the Piedmont College Daniel School of Nursing Bachelor of Science in Nursing and RN program.
Halcyon Hospice has been teaching end-of-life care at Piedmont for the past five years. Linda McCombs, RN, MAOM, CHPN and Tami Dedels, Volunteer Coordinator run the program. The aim is to introduce the philosophy and goals of hospice care, discuss services provided by hospice and focus on a number of areas including: CMS requirements, payer sources, levels of care, when is it time for hospice, pain management, signs and symptoms of approaching death and family dynamics.
“Hospice is about living not dying,” Dedels explained to students. “We get to be a part of that journey with them.”
McCombs explained that hospice was created to support the terminally ill who have a life expectancy of six months or less if the disease runs its natural course. Patient care goals are focused on palliative care not curative care and the patient, family and physician must all be emotionally ready to receive hospice care. “In hospice we have a strong emphasis on symptom management, comfort, and autonomy. We believe that each patient has the right to die with dignity and grace,” stated McCombs.
As a practice, hospice care can be traced back to 1967 when Dr. Cicely Saunders established Saint Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham, England. Saint Christopher’s Hospice became the model for comprehensive end-of-life care. Dr. Saunders was said to have been a “tireless ambassador” for the cause of Hospice and an inspirational teacher championing her “good death” concept.
Following the classroom introduction, students are scheduled to ride along with Halcyon Hospice nurses where they visit patients in their homes and facilities and have the opportunity to practice techniques they’ve learned through clinicals and lectures under the supervision of a professional hospice clinician.
“We appreciate the opportunity to learn about the specialty service of hospice. It’s invaluable listening to the perspective students gain on end-of-life care especially the family dynamics aspect after visiting patients in their homes,” Piedmont College Associate Professor, Patricia Miller, MSN, RN stated.
To find out more about Halcyon Hospice Student Programs please contact Tami Dedels, Volunteer Coordinator at 678-943-3585. For more information on Halcyon Hospice or hospice services, please visit our website or call us at 855-328-1700.