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Hope Hospice offers end-of-life care, grief support groups and volunteer opportunities

Vaseline 3 months ago

Tom Haller said Hope Hospice’s nurses, chaplains and social workers provided compassionate care to his late wife Robin and supported him as a caregiver.

Haller said Robin “had phenomenal care,” and after her death he participated in Hope Hospice’s bereavement program.

“I knew I couldn’t get any further unless someone held my hand along the way,” Haller said. “I met with a counselor every week… It was a chance to just sit and talk… (My counselor said:) ‘You have to deal with grief in your own way.’ It is very useful.”

Hope Hospice was founded in 1984 as a nonprofit hospice by a group of community members who wanted to provide dignity and care to individuals in the New Braunfels community at the end of life. The organization has since expanded and now serves ten counties: Comal, Guadalupe, Wilson, Travis, Kendall, Hays, Gonzales, Blanco, Bexar and Caldwell.

Hope Hospice provides both hospice and palliative care for people with chronic illnesses. Through fundraising events and the organization’s thrift store, Hope Hospice is able to provide care to all individuals, regardless of whether they have insurance or not. In addition, Hope Hospice provides end-of-life care to veterans, honoring their service with special ceremonies and unique care for their service-based physical and psychosocial needs. Haller’s father, who was a veteran, also received care from Hope Hospice.

“Part of the reason I wanted him here was to have an honor ceremony for veterans,” Haller said. “He passed away that morning, so he couldn’t attend the ceremony… Even though he was in a home care setting, he had regular visits from the nurses… It was overwhelming for me.”

It’s a common misconception that accepting hospice care means giving up, but Development Director Heather Harrison said the opposite is true.

“There are better outcomes when (individuals) stay in hospice longer,” Harrison said. “And that is our goal: to give patients and their families more time to prepare and process the things that will make the death more peaceful and the grief that follows more manageable.”

All counselors at Hope Hospice’s Hampel-Wuest Grief & Hope Center are licensed professional counselors specifically trained in grief support. The organization promotes caregiver confidence, excellence in symptom management, and guided passage through the process of grief and loss.

In addition to individual guidance, the organization offers family guidance, virtual guidance, play therapy and various support groups. The support groups range from tangible skills, such as cooking for one, to seasonal groups such as Help through the Holidays. Hope Hospice also offers Camp HavenHeart, a unique bereavement camp with a mix of therapeutic interventions, recreation and fun, three times a year.

“Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s are very difficult times for people after a loss, not just immediately but even for a few years after the loss, so we offer that support group,” Harrison said.

Hope Hospice also offers support groups for teens, young adults and parents who have lost a child.

“We are there for people when it matters most, and we are there for them through the difficult journey they are going through,” said Harrison. “Our goal is to ensure that the quality of life improves for everyone. That seems to (provide) what that patient needs.”

Harrison said the staff at Hope Hospice helps people beyond just their medical needs. If a patient wants to play chess again before death, the organization looks for a volunteer to meet that need. Volunteers paint patients’ nails, read to patients or sit and talk to them.

“They discover the interests of the individuals and find volunteers who can meet that need,” Haller said.

Hope Hospice also has 11th Hour volunteers who will sit with patients as they take their last breaths if they do not have family with them.

“We make sure no one dies alone,” Harrison said.

After Heller’s experience with Hope Hospice’s counseling program, he decided to become a volunteer and help process donations and send thank you letters to donors.

“(Hope Hospice) worked with Robin to bring sanity to an insane situation,” Haller said. “It’s a fantastic place to invest time and effort.”

For more information about Hope Hospice’s end-of-life care, grief counseling programs or volunteer opportunities, visit the organization’s website.

The above story was produced by multi-platform journalist Mary Katherine Shapiro of Community Impact’s Storytelling team, with information provided solely by the local business as part of their purchase of ‘sponsored content’ through our advertising team.