Hospice Services

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Hospice Services

“The VNA staff were professional, thoughtful and knowledgeable about what they were doing. They all spent time with Judy to get to know her and understand what she was going through. They really wanted to know [my wife], and make her feel comfortable.” – Brad – VNA Hospice client

It’s never easy to start a conversation about death but if you are facing a terminal diagnosis or if you are thinking about stopping curative treatments, it is time to learn more about the support services offered by VNA’s Hospice program.
 

Hospice services help those with a terminal diagnosis stay in their home, surrounded by family and friends.


Our hospice program provides compassionate end of life care and support in your home.  Our team works in partnership with patients and their families to coordinate a continuum of care based on patients’ unique needs and wishes.

Hospice is a holistic approach to health care for those with a life limiting illness.  The goal of hospice is not to cure illness but to alleviate pain, control symptoms, focus on quality of remaining life and provide spiritual, social, and emotional support for patent and family.

VNA’s hospice care focuses on comfort and symptom management. Our team is comprised of patient physician, medical directors, nurses, social workers, home health aides, chaplains, trained volunteers, and bereavement counselors.  Physical, occupational and speech therapists, as well as wound care specialists, are available as needed. These are some of the ways that Hospice can help.
  •      Managing physical symptoms
  •      Offering emotional support to individuals and their families
  •      Providing information about changes one might experience as the illness progresses
  •      Guiding families in giving care and support to their loved one
  •      Preventing hospitalizations with a hospice nurse available any time, day or night
  •      Making bereavement support available to families in a variety of ways
When an individual begins to experience a decline in regular self-care capabilities or other life-limiting symptoms, their doctor may suggest they consider hospice care. Once the doctor determines that the path of curative treatments is no longer appropriate and estimates life expectancy to be six months or less based on the Medicare Hospice Criteria, referrals can be made for hospice services.  While an individual must have a doctor’s referral to receive hospice care, they, or a family member, can call us without a referral to talk about options and to initiate the process.

People of any age, with any of the following illnesses, may be appropriate for a hospice referral if eligibility criteria are met.
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Stroke or coma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia
  • Heart disease, such as Congestive heart failure or Coronary artery disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Lung disease, such as COPD or Pulmonary fibrosis
  • General decline in condition due to age or multiple health conditions
This list does not cover every condition however if there are any questions regarding eligibility or how we might offer Hospice care and support, please contact VNA Home Health Hospice.

Studies show early engagement of hospice can extend and improve quality of life.


Anyone coping with a terminal diagnosis is welcome to inquire about VNA’s hospice programs at any point. You do not have to wait until your doctor recommends hospice to learn about your options. Although many people believe that hospice care is designed to provide the necessary care for the final days of life, studies have proven that earlier engagement of hospice can extend life and improve quality of life as well.

The most appropriate time to begin receiving hospice care is when the decision has been made to switch from curative treatments to comfort care. Our hospice team can provide clinical, social, and emotional support to help clients make the most of each day.  At VNA, our experienced team works closely with each individual and family to provide assistance and support throughout the process.

If you have received a terminal diagnosis, we urge you to consider beginning the conversation with our Hospice staff now so that you have all the information you need to make decisions about your care. To speak with someone on the Hospice team, please call (800) 757-3326.

Answers to questions we frequently hear.


Who is eligible for hospice care?
When an individual begins to experience a decline in regular self-care capabilities or other life-limiting symptoms, their doctor may suggest they consider hospice care. Once the doctor determines that the path of curative treatments is no longer appropriate and estimates life expectancy to be six months or less based on the Medicare Hospice Criteria, referrals can be made for hospice services.  While an individual must have a doctor’s referral to receive hospice care, they, or a family member, can call us without a referral to talk about options and to initiate the process.

People of any age, with any of the following illnesses, may be appropriate for a hospice referral if eligibility criteria are met.
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Stroke or coma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia
  • Heart disease, such as Congestive heart failure or Coronary artery disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Lung disease, such as COPD or Pulmonary fibrosis
  • General decline in condition due to age or multiple health conditions
This list does not cover every condition however if there are any questions regarding eligibility or how we might offer Hospice care and support, please contact VNA Home Health Hospice.

When to call VNA’s Hospice team?

For some, there may be a time when the burden of life-prolonging treatments and interventions outweighs the benefit.  At those times, shifting the focus to comfort and symptom management can potentially improve quality of life for one’s remaining time.  Although some people think that hospice is only for the last days of life, in fact, people can benefit from hospice services while they are still quite active. Our hospice team can provide clinical, social, and emotional support to help clients make the most of each day.  At VNA, our experienced team works closely with each individual and family to provide assistance and support throughout the process.  A VNA Hospice team member is happy to visit individuals and their families to discuss services and answer questions with no obligation to initiate service.

Who provides hospice care?
At VNA, our hospice team is made up of an experienced and dedicated team of the hospice medical director, nurses, social workers, home health aides, spiritual care coordinator, bereavement support counselor, and trained volunteers as well as patient’s own physician. 

Where does hospice provide care?
Through VNA, services may be provided wherever you call home – a house, apartment, nursing home or assisted living facility.  Should a person require more care than can be provided in their current setting, the hospice team is often able to assist families in identifying resources to coordinate increased care services.

Can hospice care continue after 6 months?
Studies show that engaging hospice care early on can actually prolong life and improve life quality. Some people live beyond their original prognosis once their pain and symptoms are under control.  The VNA Hospice team will continue to provide the same care as long as the qualifying criteria for hospice are met.

Does hospice “take over” care and decision-making?
No.  Hospice merely implements the plans and wishes of the patient and family. Individuals and their families remain in charge of coordinating care and making medical decisions.  The role of the hospice team is one of support, guidance, education, and collaboration.  Hospice team members will provide information and options and assist with coordinating a plan that centers on the unique goals and needs of each person we serve and their family.

How is hospice care paid for?
Medicare and Medicaid cover 100% hospice care.  Most insurance plans have a hospice benefit included in their coverage.  If you do not have insurance or are not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, our staff may be able to provide assistance in identifying resources.  VNA Home Health Hospice provides care regardless of a client’s ability to pay.  Accessing the Hospice benefit can save on some medical expenses as Durable Medical Equipment, such as wheelchairs, oxygen, or hospital beds, and medications related to comfort and symptom management are covered at 100%.

Why ask for VNA?

VNA Home Health Hospice provides a coordinated spectrum of services.  Our hospice nurses are trained to focus on comfort, pain management and quality of life. Specially trained social workers, chaplains, and volunteers provide additional support in a variety of ways including counseling, friendly visits and assistance with errands. VNA also offers skilled nursing services, physical and occupational therapy, wound care specialists, and the LifeStages companion services so that any level of care needs can be arranged, coordinated and implemented smoothly.  Additionally, VNA’s partnership with EMHS facilitates continuity in moving across the spectrum from acute to home care.

VNA’s Hearts at Home program helps patients with end stage heart disease.


Within the VNA Hospice program is a specialization designed to serve patients with advanced heart disease. Our Hearts at Home program is designed to help our Maine patients with end stage heart disease remain comfortable in their home through the end of life and avoid disruptive trips to the emergency department.

According to a 2007 report in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, heart failure patients who enroll in hospice care live an average of 81 days longer than patients who don’t enroll in hospice.

Let us help with the symptom management and comfort care for your advanced heart disease. Please call (800) 757-3326 for more information.

VNA’s Hospice care team is compassionate, professional, and highly trained in end of life care.

 

Chris Turner

Christine Turner, RN MA CHPN CHPCA currently serves as Director of Hospice and Palliative Care Programs at VNA Home Health Hospice. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Southern Maine School of Nursing and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from National University. Christine has over 19 years of diverse experience in home health and hospice from across the country, including 14 years of clinical management. Christine currently holds certifications in Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing (CHPN) and Hospice and Palliative Care Administration  (CHPCA). She holds membership in the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA), is an approved HPNA trainer, ELNEC (End of Life Nursing Education Consortium) trainer and is a founding member of the local HPNA chapter, Southern Maine Chapter of HPNA.
 
“I love being part of VNA because we are patient-focused. We have the opportunity to make a difference every day, which is why I wanted to become a nurse in the first place!”


Annie Blanchard

Annie Blanchard, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), has been providing home health and hospice social work in Southern Maine and New Hampshire since 1990. She received her BA in Social Work from the University of New Hampshire then went on to get her Master’s degree in Social Work at the University of New England. Annie has been a part of the VNA Interdisciplinary Hospice Team at VNA for 6 years. Every hospice patient and their caregivers are assigned a social worker to help guide them through the many logistical and emotional challenges of planning for and preparing for a loved one’s death. Annie is well known for her knowledge of the resources available to families in Southern Maine and for her commitment to be a part of competent, compassionate end of life care.

“I am so fortunate to work on the Hospice Team at VNA. What a privilege to support individuals and families at such a tender, challenging time. I feel honored.”
 

Pamela Shay

Pamela Shay, RN BSN CHPN currently serves as a Hospice Outreach Nurse at VNA Home Health and Hospice. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from The University of Southern Maine. Pam began working in home health nursing twenty-five years ago and has been a dedicated hospice nurse for the past eighteen years. She holds certification in Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing (CHPN) and is an approved HPNA trainer. 

“As a seasoned hospice nurse, I have found The VNA to have a very ‘can do’ attitude, even with the most challenging situations. Meeting our patient’s needs is the focus of everyone at The VNA and I love working with our inspired Hospice Team.”
 

Jennifer Mancini

Jennifer Mancini BCC, MA is a Board Certified Chaplain who was introduced to hospice work as a volunteer in 1995 and began working as a hospice chaplain in 1999.  She is an inter-denominational spiritual care provider and is a Dharma Teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies from Eckerd College and her Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies from Naropa University.  Outside of work,  Jennifer spends her time raising her two young children and spending time outdoors.

“My approach with patients is to ‘clean my slate’ prior to walking into a room with a new patient and/or family. I like to meet people wherever they are at and allow whatever is important to them, to be at the heart of the plan of care. I feel I do more listening than talking.”
 


Linda Hopkins

Linda Hopkins has always been drawn to health care helping professions and came to this work after a number of years focused on home life and children.  She has been serving on the hospice team as Bereavement and Volunteer Coordinator at VNA Home Health Hospice since 2006. Her hospice work started with training as a hospice volunteer in 1999. Linda was born in Bangor, Maine and has lived in Maine most of her life. She attended Brown University undergraduate and Tufts University School of Medicine before returning to Maine to live and work.

“Working with a great team of staff and volunteers allows me to look forward with gratitude to coming to work at VNA every day.”