I entrusted the care of both my mother in 2007 and my mother-in-law in 2012 to Hospice of Palm Beach County. Our family’s experience was so wonderful, with two completely different situations to draw from.
My mother, in constant denial about her terminal illness, would not consent to hospice until the bitter end. We knew it was right for her and from all we heard, they would help her through this process. Mom would not hear of it. She thought she was going to beat the cancer. We now wish we had called sooner. Mom continued to decline and went through a great deal of pain and fear that I believe could have been avoided. Finally mom was hospitalized and after a couple of days, she was unresponsive. Her breathing was labored and she just seemed to be uncomfortable. When hospice was suggested and called, it was 10:00pm or so on a Friday. I didn’t know what to expect, because it was so late and on the heels of a weekend. Hospice of Palm Beach County sent a nurse to meet me at the hospital within 30 minutes. I was shocked! They made a difficult decision and the process very easy for me. Mom was transported to their inpatient unit at the Gerstenberg Center on 45th Street. Mom’s nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains, music therapists and physicians were angels!!! They put me at ease from the first minute, but more importantly they put Mom at ease. Yes, I know she was non-responsive, but within an hour of her being there, you could see she was comfortable. Her breathing was not labored, she was not moaning in pain. She looked like the Mom I always remembered. They bathed her with care and took care of her as though she was awake and watching them; like she was their own mother. It was beautiful to see. They let me come to the inpatient center any time of day or night to sit with Mom, often checking on me to see how I was doing. It took a long while to realize I was their patient too. They were taking care of me, as much as Mom. It was a beautiful, enriching experience I would want for anyone and everyone.
My Mother-In-Law’s (Mom 2) experience was so different, but so similar. She knew of the care my Mom received and opted to call the same hospice, Hospice of Palm Beach County much sooner, as it became increasingly difficult for my Father-In-Law to care for her. Mom 2 was at home. Hospice scheduled their appointment around my wife’s family’s schedules to meet and answer their questions. It was a scary time for them, but it was made so easy by their Admissions Nurse. She never rushed them and never made them give up anything they wanted. Hospice made it very clear that Mom 2 was always in control of what happened to her. Mom 2 was adamant that she was not going to go to a hospital to die, not going to a nursing home and not going to an assisted living facility. The Hospice Nurse said, then that was what was going to happen. They would do all they could to keep her at home…and they did. Mom 2 had the most caring and compassionate caregivers anyone could hope for. They treated her like the lady she was. They bathed her, they talked with her, they sang to her, they prayed with her, they even had a massage therapist come in to relieve her pain, they saw to it that she received communion, they answered every question and yes, they held their promise; Mom 2 was always in control and in charge of what happened. Mom 2 and Dad 2 truly felt they had additional family there to help them each day. Morning, noon or night, questions were answered and support was given. Mom 2 had the benefit of this wondrous care for over 3 months, before she passed peacefully in her own home, as she wished. When hospice was called, a social worker came out at midnight, to help us all through her death. Mom 2 was ready and so was our family because of all the preparation Hospice gave us.
So Mom and Mom 2 had different experiences, because one was at their facility and one was home; one was unresponsive and one was “in charge”; but they both received the same wonderful care and compassion.
I cannot say enough about what Hospice of Palm Beach County did for our family. They worked with us every step of the way, removing fear, pain, concern and just the plain unknown. I don’t know what we would have done without them. God Bless these Angels.
Review from Guidestar
In 2001 we received news that my brother-in-law was diagnosed with bone cancer. While trying to deal with this news, my best friend of 20 years was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. Both had been seeing doctors for various reasons for years and we were devastated when they were diagnosed knowing that the progression of the cancers due to misdiagnosis. As their cancers progressed and all treatment options were exhausted they took different routes for care. My brother-in-law chose Hospice of Palm Beach County when the time was appropriate, but my friend was not open to the idea of Hospice and chose to stay with her cancer center and doctor for end of life care. Seeing how my brother-in-law faced the end of his life with the help of Hospice was very comforting for his family. His pain was under control, while he was at home they supplied his needs for medical equipment, they even provided music therapy (not covered by his insurance and no charge to his family). His family had counseling and bereavement support, all of their questions were answered, and most of all he felt content knowing they were not alone on this journey. Hospice of Palm Beach County made an unbearable journey tolerable. With my friend (she did not choose Hospice) you could see the pain in her face and hear it in her voice. There were days she could not eat, walk, or even speak for the pain. This was horrifying to watch knowing it did not have to be this way. When all was over and we reflected on the Hospice experience we completed the paperwork for our wishes for end of life care ensuring we will have Hospice care. Seeing two people moving along the same journey but taking different paths and the difference in personal care, pain management, caregivers with compassion, and having information makes it clear that there is no other humane option. This leaves us with great relief knowing the help that we and our families with receive from Hospice of Palm Beach County.