Patient Family Assistance
Sometimes families struggle with finances on top of the illness that is now on the forefront of their lives. We bring the opportunity for small grant assistance to offer support to families in need. Patient Family Assistance is dedicated to essential needs of home health and hospice patients, or eligible community members who are experiencing a financial hardship. Essential needs are defined by this program as: food, clothing, medicines, vitamins, and medical equipment not covered by Medicare or insurance; home repairs, assistance with utility bills, rent/mortgage, education costs, and funeral expenses.
“We served a family who had a huge hole in their kitchen floor,” remembers Julie, Outreach Coordinator. “We were worried they were going to fall and get injured; and then our home health aide actually did fall in! She was ok, but I took a church friend, who does flooring and small home repairs to the house to get an estimate. He said, ‘Honestly, see the way the washer is slanting like that? This is going to cost thousands of dollars, because it’s really the whole foundation falling in. Putting these boards over it are probably the best that can be done without gutting the whole place.’ I felt so helpless. But we had limited resources just starting out as a new company. I hoped and prayed we would grow and one day be able to offer some assistance. Our foundation is such a great start in helping with the other things that families need. Sometimes it only takes a seed to grow some hope to carry on courageously.”
Fulfilling Birthday Wishes
“We used to deliver cakes,” describes Julie Myers, TrueVine Owner and Outreach Coordinator. “We were a small company, so usually several from the care team would join in. Then the bakery couldn’t order the right kind of box for me to transport the giant cupcakes, and they were always tipping over in my car. Our staff became busier and couldn’t always coordinate visiting the birthday person together. It gave me time to stop and think that not everyone wanted or even was able to eat cake at this time in their lives; everyone had different wishes for their day. I began putting more time, communication and funding into the program, making homemade cards and asking staff to write personal notes in them. Now we make a special call to each family and find out just what we could do to make the day a bit more special.
We’ve done everything from having our home health aide bring a multi course dinner into the home for a patient to share with her son on her last Mother’s Day, to hosting a couple of 100th birthday bashes, to helping a wife pick out a new shirt to discreetly put in her husband’s closet. He had very progressed dementia, and she was afraid another birthday would throw him off and really confuse him. She just wanted him to have something new to wear I’ve had patients who simply don’t want to let go of their homemade cards with all the birthday wishes and staff signatures inside. They may like to see their own name written, see if they can find their caregiver’s names, and then they just hang on to it.
Tomorrow I’m buying cat food for a lady who doesn’t want to celebrate her birthday, but her nurse said if I dropped off something for the beloved cat, she’d probably appreciate it.
Once we were celebrating a native Californian’s 83rd birthday with her hospice volunteer. Family was not able to be with her on her birthday. I asked her what she wanted to drink with her cake and she perked right up and said, ‘Wine!’ I told her that I didn’t bring any and that the nursing home didn’t have any wine in their kitchen. She paused, shrugged and said with a big sigh. . . ‘Ok, I guess a beer will be fine.’ "
It Happened Along the Way
Life Story Book Program
All home health and hospice patients are invited to create a book of special memories to share.
“All that some of our patients want to do is tell us their story.”
Patients who are interested in this project are interviewed by staff or volunteers early in their care journey. “We craft together these little life reviews, personal photos included if they wish, and bind into a hardcover book or two or three for families to enjoy at no cost,” explains hospice volunteer, Jack. Books cost us from about $20 apiece to make, considering the home spun, scrapbook adornments used, heavy weight paper, hardback binding, laser ink, time, etc.
“We have a list of questions we ask that often stir some memories,” describes our volunteer coordinator and co-founder of the Life Book Program. “Questions like ‘How did you get to school?’ can often trigger a whole set of elementary school, best friend, favorite teacher, related little memories. Sometimes we share stories with our care staff for a ‘Throwback Thursday’ smile. I try to get as much info as I can on a first visit. We never know how much time any of us have, do we?
If our patient can’t communicate well, but the family does want their story captured, we will ask the family to answer or help answer the questions. Families will remember all kinds of things…it can get real interesting,” she smiles.