Dignity • noun
dig·ni·ty | \ ˈdig-nə-tē \
Definition of dignity
We define dignity because it’s the one noun that relates to quality of life at the end of life, a core value of hospice care at Hospice of Southern Illinois. How do people with a life-limiting illness find quality of life at the end of life? Finding it is different for each person. As individuals with life-limiting illnesses disease progresses, Hospice of Southern Illinois can be called in to support the patient and their family.
We know it’s not an easy call to make. Our care team works together with the patient and their family on what matters most to them at the end of life. While Hospice of Southern Illinois offers many services, layers of support, and compassionate care providers, our core values: integrity, excellence, respect, dignity, and diversity, remain the same. Quality of life is at the center of everything we do for our patients and their families. Mr. David Ward’s story is an example of care that focuses on the quality of life.
Mr. Ward was in the hospital, his kidneys failing, and physically ill. His disease was end-stage. The doctor recommended hospice. Our admission nurse arrived to provide education and support. Mr. Ward and his daughter, his healthcare power of attorney, decided they needed to refocus his goals of care. Quality of life was now his primary focus.
Within Mr. Ward’s first week of receiving hospice care, his pain was reduced and his symptoms were managed. His daughter was surprised to see her father living past a week. She focused on the time she had to spend with her dad. “As far as I am concerned, these are the angels sent down to help me take care of my daddy.” His nurse and hospice aide, who assisted with his physical well-being, personal care and diagnosis specific education, visited him regularly to ensure his dignity as his disease progressed.
“As far as I am concerned, these are the angels sent down to help me take care of my daddy.”Tyra, Daughter of Mr. Ward
Mr. Ward is a man with so much history; born in 1941, an Army veteran and a gunshot victim while saving his brother 45 years ago. After learning so much about Mr. Ward’s life, his social worker began to ensure the emotional well-being of the family. Often checking in, providing resources, and preparing them for the unknown ahead, the social worker also enjoyed Mr. Ward’s many stories, love for coffee, chocolate cake donuts, and old western films.
After several months in Hospice of Southern Illinois’ program, the many benefits the family observed and the quality of life Mr. Ward was experiencing, was exactly what they had hoped for a loved one with a life-limiting illness. He was above all else, comfortable and at peace. Mr. Ward’s nurse, social worker and hospice aide continued their visits, always asking him three important questions, “What’s important to you today?”; “Do you have any pain?”; and “How can I make today better?” In hospice, we don’t get to celebrate birthdays often. Each day as his birthday approached, the team wanted to make sure he was ready to make a lasting memory. As we all entered the room with donuts, cake and balloons in hand, we heard, “Oh, Lord!” We proceeded to sing happy birthday and shared stories. After his visit with his Hospice of Southern Illinois family, Mr. Ward’s son left us with some beautiful words, “I appreciate everything hospice has done for the Ward family and our dad. We can’t thank you all enough. And to top it all off, to be here with him on his birthday is most appreciative. We love you all, and we thank you all for being a part of this.”
Mr. Ward and his family have seen how meeting with hospice to discuss his comfort and peace was a decision they will never regret. Calling Hospice of Southern Illinois to focus on his quality of life early on, was such a benefit, not only to their dad, but to the entire family. We hope every individual and their family who experience a life-limiting illness can spend time with family, focus on what’s important each day, and receive the dignity they deserve.
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