February 13, 2020

A Team of Your Own: Personalized Help Navigating End-of-life Concerns

caregiver with elderly patientBy Deanna Thompson
When patients are diagnosed with a terminal illness, they often feel lost and unsure of the road ahead. “The most important person of all is the patient,” said Jeffrey Tait, MD, the hospice and palliative care physician at CarePartners Hospice in McDowell County. “They are so individual in their needs, there is no set recipe. The patient will tell us what they need, and we try to meet them where they are.”

At CarePartners Hospice, an interdisciplinary team comes together to provide support. This group works as a unit, holding regular meetings to discuss, develop and refine a specific plan of care for each patient.

• The registered nurse manages the patient’s clinical care, visiting as needed to follow up on symptoms, change dressings or handle other issues.
• The physician works in conjunction with the nurse in a supervisory role, admitting the patient, prescribing medications, regularly reviewing the patient’s clinical picture and visiting as needed.
• The social worker assists with nonmedical concerns, such as creating a living will, applying for financial assistance programs or finding a nursing home if the patient can no longer be cared for at home.
• The nondenominational chaplain is available to assist with patients’ spiritual needs.
Specialists, such as music therapists who use music to relax patients, can also be there for support.
Volunteers can help with nonmedical needs, such as reading to patients or styling their hair.

Jeffrey Tait, MD, is the hospice and palliative care physician at CarePartners Hospice in McDowell County.

Ready to start the hospice conversation? Learn more about CarePartners Hospice at missionhealth.org/hospice.