Celebrating National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.

During November, as we celebrate many holidays, we also commemorate National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Most of us are familiar with the term “hospice.” The movement began in the 1200’s in Europe, when caregivers recognized the needs of the dying. Today’s hospice movement centers around this mission statement: “At the center of hospice and palliative care is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so.” Basically that means that hospice patients and their families receive emotional and spiritual support at the end of life, along with medical care.
 
But what about the other word…palliative care? What does that mean? Palliative care is meant to bring comfort, rather than cure. So, for example, receiving appropriate pain medication to ease suffering at the end of life would be palliative care.
 
In 2017, Columbia Lutheran Home opened four hospice rooms, specifically intended and designed to support residents and their families for the end of life. The private rooms offer beautiful spaces where families can spend time with their loved ones as they say goodbye. The furnishings in the room include a sleeper couch and variable lighting. We opened the rooms in June and they have provided comfort to many families since.
 
As residents and families cycle through the hospice rooms at Columbia Lutheran Home, each one adds to the furnishings we provided. Does that mean they leave knick-knacks or pictures? No, it means that each person’s prayers and memories somehow become preserved in each hospice room, adding layers of love that surround the next person as they use the space. Our prayer at Columbia is that over the years our hospice rooms will be well-used and richly furnished with love.