Music Therapy Benefits in Hospice Care

A Music Therapy Case Study | Joshua Gilbert, MT-BC

Throughout life, song can positively affect us both physically and emotionally. It influences bodily functions that we believe are beyond our control, such as heart rate, blood pressure and release of the body’s natural pain relief chemicals. Music therapy offers significant benefits for patients, caregivers and families. We offer it as part of our hospice services.

In a case study conducted (by Joshua Gilbert) on the impact of music therapy over a four-month period, with an older adult in hospice care, results exhibited significant signs of improvement in the following categories:

  • Quality of life
  • Self-esteem
  • Emotional expression
  • Breathing patterns

Through involvement in music-based interventions, these improvements allowed the patient to benefit from music therapy during hospice care. The patient often smiled, laughed and made positive comments about the music. After participating in deep breathing exercises and harmonica playing, the patient’s breathing became deeper and less labored. Additionally, the patient developed increased confidence in improvising harmonica music, and more open about expressing her emotions surrounding death.

Despite patient status or level of consciousness, music therapists can console and comfort them through music. Research has shown hearing is the last outside sensation that registers with a dying patient. Let us help your loved one make this experience more soothing.

To read the full case study, please click here.

Common Hospice Diagnoses

Oasis Healthcare is here for you – 24/7/365.

Choosing Hospice is often a difficult decision. We help lead this conversation and can ease the anxiety of the transition from cure to comfort for patients who are appropriate for hospice care. If two or more of these potential indicators are present, hospice should be considered.

Common Hospice Diagnoses

End Stages of: Cancer, Heart Disease/CHF, Pulmonary Disease/COPD, Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease, Neurological Disease/CVA, Renal Disease & Liver Disease.

If your loved one is requiring increased assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, grooming, oral care, toileting, transferring to their bed/chair, walking, eating, etc.; this may be an indicator that hospice should be considered.

Additional indicators include:

  • Muscle Loss/Weakening or Weakness
  • Multiple Falls
  • Multiple ER Visits/Hospitalizations
  • Recurrent/Multiple Infections
  • Altered Mental Status
  • Unintentional Mental Status
  • Unintentional Weight Loss
  • Difficulty at Mealtime
  • Increasing Shortness of Breath
  • Multiple Medication/Frequent Medication Changes
  • Sleeping Longer/Napping More
  • Skin Breakdown/Wounds
  • Other Diagnoses that Contribute to Decline

If you have questions about the hospice benefit or when to elect your benefit, please contact Oasis Hospice at 205-640-3303 (Birmingham) · 205-210-4906.

One Word: Hospice

One word… One word that’s the most solidifying word you will ever hear. A word that can often be misinterpreted.

One word… Hospice.

This means you are dying. Maybe not dying today, tomorrow or the next day – but it is a word not many want to hear. As a hospice liaison, helping people understand to not be afraid is part of what makes my job so rewarding. Watching potential patients and their family member begin to ease as I explain the role of hospice is an incredible feeling.

As a hospice liaison, I help ease all your previous notions about what we do and assure you that we are here to help.

Hospice doesn’t mean you will die tomorrow. It does not mean you will be taken off all your medications or stay home while waiting for the end. What it does mean is that you have a terminal illness and instead of continuing to seek aggressive treatment, it is better for you to be comfortable and have a quality of life with loved ones, however that may be defined by you.

It is shown that a hospice patient lives more comfortably when: a nurse visits to manage pain and symptoms, a home health aide provides personal care, a social worker assists with community resources and counseling, a chaplain offers spiritual support, volunteers play cards with and a physician oversees it all to ensure you are as comfortable as possible for however long that may be.

That one word… Hospice. Let’s look at it in a more positive way, focusing on the benefits we can offer a patient and their family.

So, I ask both professionals and patients – Why would you not want to live more comfortably with support from hospice?

-Tracy Wagoner, Hospice Liaison

Our COVID-19 Response: A Letter from Our CEO Mike McMaude

To the Abode Healthcare Community,

I hope this note finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting each of us in different ways. As we navigate the current situation together, I want to provide an update on the steps we have taken to be there for our community, our employees, and our patients.

All of us at Abode Healthcare are focused on providing the highest quality of care to our patients. I provided an update at the end of March outlining the changes we implemented to prioritize safe patient care in this new environment. Every decision we have made, and continue to make, has been based on the priority of the health and wellbeing of our patients and employees.

I am deeply grateful for our employees who display incredible dedication by continuing to fulfill their commitment to our patients during this especially challenging time. These individuals, and everyone working on the frontlines of care, deserve to feel protected, confident, and taken care of.

In recent weeks we have made informed decisions and taken actions that ultimately support and benefit our entire community:

  • PPE: At the first sign of COVID-19, we prioritized spending where it’s needed most and to date, have purchased $1 million of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) so no one reported to work without protection. I’m proud to say that we’ve not had to turn down any patients due to lack of PPE. We’ve even been able to assist other homecare and hospice organizations, and hospitals serving the Navajo nation as well as other underserved populations, in providing supplies for their employees by donating thousands of PPE items. In addition to our company’s commitment, several executives on our team have made personal PPE donations for local health organizations so they can work safely.
  • Paid Leave: To support employees who risk their own health and safety to care for patients, we instituted a special paid-time-off policy modeled after the Families First Coronavirus Response Act designated for companies with fewer than 500 employees. In Abode’s plan, employees receive unlimited leave for issues relating to COVID-19, including a newly instituted emergency paid time off (EPTO) benefit that is in addition to the PTO employees accrue with regular benefits. These additional benefits allow employees to potentially recover from COVID-19, care for a family member who is ill with the virus, or care for children whose schools and daycares have closed.
  • Business Investment: Rather than cut back, we’ve leaned into the business to make sure that we are even better prepared to care for patients. Some of these actions include:
    • Building out our telehealth and remote care solutions
    • Retaining a dedicated, talented workforce
    • Hiring new employees and growing our team locally and nationally
    • Expanding our team’s knowledge with the addition of an infectious disease physician, Dr. Shannon Thorn
  • Charitable Donations: As we have every year, we continue to support charitable organizations in our communities. That will not stop just because of COVID-19. Support for neighbors, near and far, is needed now more than ever.

I am extremely proud of how everyone at Abode has reacted and handled the unique situation that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented. It’s difficult to adequately express my appreciation for our community—patients, employees, and partners. I have been reminded, once again, what an incredible organization we have—one that is driven by a common purpose of caring for, and serving, vulnerable patients. Every member of our team has come together to do what’s right, and I thank you. We look forward to continuing to work together and supporting each other through this challenging time.

Stay safe and healthy,

Mike

Celebrating Nurses | Mattie May

Oasis Healthcare is celebrating nurses during the month of May! Meet Mattie and learn about her passion for hospice nursing.

Mattie May has spent much of her nursing career as a hospice nurse, and truly has a heart and a passion for her work after 27 years in the field. In honor of Nurses Week, Mattie reflects on why working as a hospice nurse is a ministry to her.

Hospice nursing has given Mattie the opportunity to help, guide, and teach patients and their families through one of the most difficult times of their lives. She said a successful hospice nurse is compassionate, patient, and understanding in the midst of a crisis, which is how her teammates describe her.

“There are times when, working as a nurse, one has to go beyond the call of duty, which means working long hours and doing whatever is necessary to help families effectively cope with their stress and grief,” Mattie said.

Mattie does this because being a hospice nurse is more than just a job to her. “Working hospice is indeed a challenge, but with a good team, anything can be accomplished. I love and enjoy my career,” she explained.

In her early years as a hospice nurse, she served a patient who had young grandchildren. She said every visit, when she arrived and got out of her car, the patient’s grandchildren would run outside to greet her. “They would scream to their parents, ‘the doctor is here!’,” Mattie remembered fondly. “They were genuine and sincere. The world would be a better place if we were all like little children.”

Years later, her patients and their families are still just excited for her visits. We are thankful that Mattie provides that comfort to all she serves, as she did with those small children years ago.

Celebrating Nurses | Candace Guthrie

Oasis Healthcare is celebrating nurses during the month of May! Meet Candace and learn about her passion for nursing as she explains her “why.”

“I have been a nurse for 4 years, and in the healthcare field for a total of 12 years. I chose nursing so I could be an advocate for patients when they are at their sickest, and we as nurses can be their voice.

Growing up with my mother as a nurse and my dad’s parents in and out of hospitals, I developed my passion for nursing. I chose hospice because I knew it was very rewarding being with patients and families during the toughest times. Being that person they can count on and guiding them with what is going on, reduces their pain and anxiety and relives some of the burdens that come with end of life care.

I am so thankful to everyone that has played a role in my journey as a hospice nurse. I choose to stay because of these awesome people!”

Celebrating Nurses | Angela Bryant

Oasis Healthcare is celebrating nurses during the Month of May! Meet Angela and learn about her passion for hospice nursing.

Angela Bryant decided to work in the medical field after several personal experiences of helping sick family members. Those experiences, coupled with her time spent serving as a 911 dispatcher, placed a calling on Angela to do more to help others, and she began a career in nursing. Now, twelve and a half years later, Angela serves as a hospice nurse and an RN Case Manager on the Oasis Healthcare team.

But she didn’t start out in hospice. “Prior to working for Oasis, I worked in a facility that had hospice patients, but I had never worked for a hospice company,” Angela said. “I had many peers tell me that they could see me doing hospice nursing and that I had the compassion for it, so I took a leap of faith and tried it. I love it and know that it’s where I’m supposed to be.”

Regardless of who or how she was serving, the stories and experiences that she has had over her years as a nurse have impacted her and stuck with her throughout her career. “I have worked with newborns at the beginning of life and the elderly at the end of life,” she said.

Highlights of her career include watching miracle babies grow and develop after their parents were told they would not and seeing elderly patients outlive their life expectancies. “To pick out one story from my career that sticks out is so hard!” she said.

Although she loves helping patients and their families, she also enjoys the opportunities to learn and grow during her nursing career. “As a hospice nurse, I can help others and grow as a person at the same time because of what I take from each family I encounter,” Angela said.

She said nursing is everything to her, and she doesn’t know what she would do if she wasn’t a nurse. We thank her for her service!

Celebrating Nurses | Jeanine Shaw

Oasis Healthcare is celebrating nurses during the month of May! Meet Jeanine and learn about her passion for nursing as she explains her “why.”

“Why did I choose nursing?

I believe that nursing chose me. I became an EMT and it was satisfying, but something was still missing. My sister became a nurse and urged me to do the same. So, with my sister’s encouragement, I went to nursing school. During my clinicals in nursing school, I realized helping others in their time of need and sorrow was my calling.

During my career as a staff nurse, I had the blessing of being with one of my patients at their time of death. My patient was scared, and I was able to bring comfort to her at the end by simply sitting beside her, talking with her and holding her hand. When she passed, I knew I had given her comfort in her time of need. At that moment in my career, I vowed never to let a patient die alone if I could help it.

We all come into this world with a waiting room full of loved ones so excited to meet and greet us. At the end of life, we sometimes have no one present. I will be present, if able, to allow my patients to pass from this world to the next with someone who loves and cares for them. My patients deserve this and deserve to die with dignity.

I love being a hospice nurse. Some people do not understand why I do what I do, even after explaining. I am blessed to be a part of a patient’s life and death. It is a great honor and blessing to work at Oasis Healthcare. This team believes in what they are doing and do it with such compassion. I have learned so much through hospice nursing and am truly blessed.”

Celebrating Nurses | Katie Dominguez

Oasis Healthcare is celebrating nurses during the month of May! Meet Katie and learn about her passion for nursing as she explains her “why.”

“I remember when I was a little girl, I dreamed of being someone who could help other people. People who are hurting, people who are sick, or just people who need someone to listen to them and care. I did not get to nursing school until I was in my mid 30’s. The excitement I had when I was accepted into nursing school was overwhelming. You see, I never thought that at my age I could live my dream. Now, I’ve graduated from nursing school and spend my days caring for people.

I spent over 17 years working in surgery – part of my career as a Surgical Tech and the last 8 years as a circulating nurse. I loved surgery but felt something was missing. Then, this amazing opportunity opened up. A wonderful friend talked to me about hospice care and how amazing and supportive the team is. This place is Oasis Hospice Care. I cannot ask for a better work family who are always kind and ready to help whenever you need them.

Now, for the most important part of this awesome opportunity – I meet the most amazing people. Yes, they are sick, but you learn so much from the patients and their families.  If you open your heart and your ears, you learn so much!  Just a few days ago, a patient told me, “My heart and soul feel so safe with the hospice team. Just knowing I can call and have someone help me without having to run to the hospital makes me feel peace where I did not feel peace before.”  You see, Hospice is about comfort, peace, friendship and care. It’s not about dying, it’s about living.”

Happy Nurses Day!

Today, we recognize our nurses for their hard work, support, and compassion. Because of you, we live in a happier, healthier world. Happy Nurses Day!

Your hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed. Now, more than ever, we appreciate you!