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Hospice for veterans: Meeting the special needs of people who served

July 30, 2018 Inside Main Line Health By Terre Mirsch, MS, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, CHPN, CHPCA

We Honor Veterans is a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The program draws hospices, state hospice organizations, Hospice-Veteran Partnerships and VA facilities together in a pioneering program that focuses on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgment. By recognizing the unique needs of our veterans and their families, we learn how to best support and guide them through their life experiences and take into consideration any emotional and psychological needs that may stem from having served in the armed forces.

Veteran hospice services provided by hospice staff and volunteers with specialized training

Main Line Health Hospice is currently a We Honor Veterans Partner Level Two, which means we provide veteran-centric education for our hospice staff and hospice volunteers, and we identify patients with military experience so we can meet their unique, end-of-life needs.

Features of this effort include:

  • We Honor Veterans lapel pins worn by all hospice staff and designated veteran volunteers
  • American flag lapel pins for all patients who served in the military (pin is presented along with framed certificate reflecting patient’s branch of service)
  • Patriotic lap quilts sewn by volunteer quilters
  • Veteran volunteers who visit our veteran hospice patients
  • Veteran recognition activities on holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day

How the Main Line Health Hospice team cares for veterans in hospice

All of our hospice leaders, nurses, social workers, chaplains, therapists, home health aides and volunteers are involved in the We Honor Veterans program. When a veteran is admitted to Main Line Health Hospice, we discuss the kinds of experiences they had while in the military. We consider illnesses and conditions related to their service that may affect their end-of-life experience and we strive to provide the very best end-of-life care while honoring their courage and sacrifice.

To advance our partnership level, all of our staff members and volunteers attend special programs related to veterans’ assessment and care. Main Line Health Hospice earns achievement stars as our program participants perform special tasks, attend educational seminars, and complete training goals.

Our goal is to advance to Partner Level Four as we continue our staffwide training and education, expand our partnership to local and regional Veterans Administration (VA) offices, and increase access and improve quality of care for veterans in our community.

If you know of a veteran who needs hospice care, please call 1.888.533.3999 from Monday to Friday between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm, or Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm. You can also submit an online referral at any time or email us for more information.

If you are interested in becoming a hospice volunteer or would like to make a donation to support this program, visit the HomeCare & Hospice Foundation page.