Published April 21, 2015
Volume 23, Number 4

Hope Hospice Offers Support & Programs to Help with Tough


Hope Hospice

By Zoe Francis

The caring staff and volunteers at Hope Hospice realize that nobody is eager to talk about death, but they hope to prompt discussions so that people can share their end-of-life wishes long before a crisis strikes.
“It’s really about helping patients and families have the end-of-life experience that they prefer,” Victoria Emmons, the group’s CEO, said. “Every family’s different. Every patient’s different. The common thread that seems to run through all of us is we prefer to have some control over how our lives end.”
Hope Hospice was founded in 1980 by a group of Pleasanton residents that realized the Tri-Valley was sorely in need of high-quality hospice service.
“We initially were all volunteer run,” Emmons said. “If you look at the history of hospice in the country, that’s pretty much how it began. Most hospices were nonprofit. It was quite some time before hospice was paid for by insurance.”
Hope Hospice has evolved as hospice care has become more widely accepted and even sought after by patients and families dealing with end-of-life issues.
“Hospice involves a team of professionals and volunteers,” she said. “That team assesses the patient and the family situation. They assess that patient’s clinical needs and their psychosocial needs. They work with them to develop a plan of care in line with what the patient wants. Wherever the patient lives, we go to them.”
The care team could include doctors, nurses, social workers, home health aides, dieticians and other specialists, as needed. Volunteers are still a key component of hospice care.
“Medicare requires that 5 percent of the care that’s provided comes from volunteers,” Emmons explained. “We have a very strong volunteer program at Hope. We have amazing volunteers. Some of them have been with us for nearly 30 years.”
Volunteers offer a variety of support ranging from bedside vigil to reading books and sharing memories. One volunteer provides haircuts while yet another plays soothing harp music.
A new hospice program, Transitions, offers pre- and post-hospice services for patients who do not qualify for hospice care either because they are not quite ready or their health has improved.
“An individual may not meet the criteria for hospice, but they still need some extra resources,” she explained. “They can go into our transition service until they actually need hospice.”
Hope Hospice’s programs extend far beyond end-of-life care. The nonprofit offers a six-session caregiver education series and recently started showing the documentary Consider the Conversation to help people start end-of-life conversations.
“Our goal is to help educate the community about the value of advanced directives and more importantly, having a conversation with their families about what they would want at the end of their lives,” Emmons said. “It’s important to express to your family, ‘If my times comes, this is what I prefer.’ It’s hard at first because nobody wants to talk about death. When you have that conversation, it’s very liberating.”
It is also important these days when the market is full of hospice options, both nonprofit and for-profit.
“When we first started, we were the only hospice around,” she recalled. “Now, there are lots of them. Over half of the hospices in this country are for-profit. It’s a different environment than it was 35 years ago. On the positive side, people have more choices. On the more difficult side, how do you choose.”
People should look for experience and longevity. A recent Consumer Reports review of hospices recommends nonprofit agencies over for-profit companies.
“If I’m choosing a hospice for my loved one, I want to make sure the quality is really high,” Emmons said. “We’ve expanded our community education offerings in part because there’s been such a proliferation of hospices in today’s world. They should learn about it before making that choice.”
Hope Hospice has two key fundraisers coming up – the Hike for Hope on May 2 at Del Valle Regional Park and the first-ever Hope 100 Golf Marathon on June 8 at Castlewood Country Club. The latter event is in memory of local golf pro Piper Wagner.
“They’re going to play 100 holes in a day,” Emmons said. “It’s for your hearty golfer who likes a challenge. We’re excited about that (event).”
The golf marathon is limited to 30 golfers who each must raise a minimum of $5,000 to participate. Golf slots are filling quickly, but there is still plenty of need for event sponsors.
Fundraisers and donations are critical for Hope Hospice to maintain its high-quality care that is available to anyone who requests their services, regardless of ability to pay.
“We support high quality, ethical care,” Emmons said. “We don’t want to have to cut corners on quality and care. We have to be able to cover those costs. The funds we make through philanthropy help us continue to be able to offer that high quality of care and to continue to serve everyone.”
Learn more about Hope Hospice’s many services and its upcoming fundraisers at hopehospice.com.


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