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Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care Modifies Care During COVID

Tuesday, June 30, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Katherine Lally
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by Melanie Savage for Hartford Courant

Few people give much thought to hospice care until they really need to. But COVID-19 is reshaping the way hospices facilitate connection for isolated patients, and families navigating grief and the end of life. Thanks to strong partnerships with hospitals, nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities in the community, Seasons Hospice and Palliative care is able to provide care wherever the patient calls home, and is fully equipped to continue doing so thanks to the integration of technology.

Seasons has been pushing the envelope and finding creative and compliant ways to facilitate connection and education through a number of avenues, including offering virtual bereavement support groups with bereavement experts for free to anyone experiencing grief. Seasons has been coordinating window visits, birthday parades, and fulfilling last wishes, despite limitations, for patients and families that are impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Offering free online educational content to the public, including relevant Continuing Education courses for healthcare professionals, is another way that Seasons has overcome the restrictions resulting from COVID. Facebook Live discussions with bereavement experts and a hub of patient and family information and resources help family members to cope in a safe manner.

“As much as a crisis eventnatural disaster, or pandemic presents a need for greater flexibility and creativity, it also helps to further reinforce the fundamental purpose of our role and responsibility – to provide compassionate care towards a good end-of-life journey for patients and families alike,” said Yelena Zatulovsky, VP of Patient Experience at Seasons.

 

Zatulovsky said that staff’s abilities to continue to deliver on this hospice promise during the COVID crisis have highlighted the very nature of their responsiveness, passion, and professional excellence. 

“COVID-19 allowed us to work more closely with our healthcare partners – such as the Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes, and Hospital Systems – to unite together in a way that honored the needs of their residents, patients, the greater communities, and the staff,” said Zatulovsky.

 

This collaboration and partnership can be viewed as a positive to come out of the COVID experience. It meant helping to dispel the myths of hospice and about the dying process, and how much life and joy could still be reveled in,” said Zatulovsky, noting that COVID meant overcoming distancing physically, but increasing connection emotionally and spiritually. 

Zatulovsky noted that by the third week of March, Seasons had identified virtual platforms that were approved by both the Office of Civil Rights and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, allowing them to help families connect with their loved ones in their care. 

“By the following week, we initiated our first virtual grief support group for members of our community,” she said.  This eventually grew to 26 weekly grief groups across the country – some for widows, some for siblings, some for healthcare workers, some for children. 

Facebook Live events include topics relevant to the community at large, such as how to support your loved one who is a healthcare worker, or how to negotiate your needs as a loved one with the healthcare team despite being unable to visit your loved one directly.

“Our National Seasons COVID-19 Task Force created a repository of information (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) for every discipline we employ and support,” said Zatulovsky.  Seasons coordinated a rapid response team, which supported live questions, committed to sending out a daily message to all staff, and initiated weekly town halls by site and region to ensure transparency, increased communication, and decreased anxiety.  Rest of article here


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