It is difficult for anyone, client or provider, to adopt the right tone when speaking of hospice care. Maintaining positivity while showing respect for potential clients who are grieving is a delicate balance, but it is one worth chasing. Finding the right words attracts more clients to your services, but also begins this painful process in a way that leads to better, more meaningful outcomes for families. So how is it done?
Step away from euphemism when speaking to potential clients. Avoiding use of the words ‘dying’ or ‘death’ may seem gentle, but it may lead families to feel uncomfortable asking the questions that matter to them. Using direct language in respectful tones lets them know that you understand fully that they are experiencing a deep loss, and that they do not need to temper their language to meet your needs. Clients are likely to choose the facility that makes them ‘feel comfortable’, and this is the easiest way to achieve that.
Ask multiple times what their concerns are about hospice care. They likely have several, and any industry professional knows the most common ones. But people may shy away from a particular provider over some small detail that means nothing to the provider, but brings back an emotional memory having nothing to do with care. For example, if there is a room outfitted to show potential clients that is painted a particular shade of pink that their loved one hated, it may simply be a matter of letting them know there is a room available in a different color. It seems trivial, but the experience of grief is deeply personal, and such a small matter may be the difference between your facility and choosing another.
Allow Plenty Of Time
Finally, you must allow time. Once hospice care enters the conversation, families often feel rushed to make decisions by doctors and hospitals whom they feel are indifferent to their impending loss. Frequently, they are rushed through the health care system with inadequate explanation to meet their needs. Your facility shines when it takes the clock off the wall and addresses each family’s needs, and hears its stories. To whatever degree it is possible, allow a family to talk as much as they like, and encourage them to ask all their questions, and make time to listen.
Long illness strains family relationships and individuals. It can involve long nights awake, protracted battles with insurance companies, and difficult decisions. What hospice must therefore offer is rest. A place where client and family can repair their relationships and say their goodbyes, and be reassured of comfort and peace, at home or in a facility. That is the true gift of hospice care.