During the pandemic, every industry was upended and left to deal with the “new normal” of operating procedures and everyday workflow when faced with masking, social distancing, and suspension of many face-to-face interactions. Hospice care took on sometimes seemingly insurmountable restrictions to its role and identity during the pandemic. But in the course of this setback, we learned some valuable things that will forever shape how we approach care delivery.
Some lessons were harder to accept than others. In hospice care, one of the core principles that most providers share is that no one should die alone. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, a lot of people did. With restrictions on visitors in place, even visitors from hospice care organizations, many people passed without the comfort of a familiar or caring hand in theirs. It was unavoidable, but tragic. Not being able to be there and not being able to say goodbye were the biggest challenges of COVID for both hospice care workers and for loved ones.
This also presented a whole other layer to grief that the bereaved had to work through—the closure, the goodbyes not being what they expected. And because of social distancing and restrictions, a lot of people had to grieve alone without the traditional rituals and support systems.
We learned that funerals were much more important than we’d ever known. It’s easy to think of them as just a formality until they are taken away. Then, you realize how deeply important they are to the grief process. COVID created a new appreciation for our rituals that surround grief. Funerals can be uncomfortable and for this reason, a lot of people will show up without knowing what words to say. But COVID has shown us how much they really matter to help the bereaved work through their grief. Because they provide a chance to receive extensive support from people across many social circles and this outpouring of support reinforces the feelings of comfort, belonging, and compassion.
COVID also impacted group sessions making them near impossible at the height of the pandemic. Group support give the bereaved the opportunity to talk through their loss with other bereaved and without these sessions, hospices had to find new ways to cultivate community support. Many found alternative ways to create connection whether that was writing letters to loved ones or joining bereavement groups via online platforms like Facebook. We discovered how impactful group support really is to the coping process for the bereaved and expanded our support to virtual experiences.
Virtual support also presented challenges as many were learning how to navigate technology such as Zoom for the first time. In many cases it was not only challenging to families but also for hospice staff. Fortunately, hospices were able to move much of the one-on-one support to the phone and still provide a valuable solution for supporting the bereaved through this time.
The experiences that hospices faced during COVID and the new ways they found to care for people have created new options that they have for offering services for hospice patients and their loved ones going forward. These new lessons will inform how providers commit to delivering excellent care not matter what should another health crisis arise.
Going through COVID shined a light on ongoing dedication of hospice care providers and what it means to the families they work with.
Curantis Solutions is here for you.
At Curantis Solutions, we know that great bereavement care needs a strong software platform that supports the regulatory requirement of 13-month post-death bereavement support, and we are committed to supporting hospices with innovative solutions that simplify operations so they can stay focused on supporting families with end-of-life care.
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