Patients in hospice care receive support and help from caregivers such as loved ones and friends, or from professional caregivers, in a care-support facility. But what happens to the pets of those who enter hospice? What happens when their owners die?
The strong bond between animal owners and their pets have long been recognized. So when a person becomes ill and can no longer take care of their pet, the responsibility then falls to the caregivers.
Dianne McGill, president and founder of Pet Peace of Mind, a volunteer organization, has found a way around that. She along with other professions from fields ranging from human healthcare and medical research to palliative care and veterinary medicine. She recognized a void between hospice and palliative care for patients who have pets.
It’s not just dogs and cats that come to their attention – they’ve worked with patients whose pets included birds, horses, fish, and even a tarantula. McGill tells the story of a man with three horses who he regarded as his own children. He was concerned that once he entered hospice they would become worried and wonder why he wasn’t visiting them anymore.
He wanted to say goodbye to his horses and after discussing it with his doctor, he was given permission to be moved to the first floor, where a window was removed from the room and the three horses were brought to the hospice house so he could spend time with them while still under hospice care. McGill concluded by saying that he died peacefully and with a big smile.
According to Pet Peace of Mind, “Our mission is to enrich the quality of life and well-being of hospice and palliative care patients by providing a national support network to help care for the pets they love. We envision a nation where all patients have the support they need to maintain the loving bond with their pets.”
Founded in 2009, the program is now available in 44 states and is available to any non-profit hospice care center in nature. A listing of the states and participating hospice care organizations can be found on their website.
The organization focuses on three main points:
- Making sure that a patient’s pet gets face to face time, care, and have their daily needs met.
- Assisting the patient financially for food and any essentials the pet may need.
- Finding a new home for the pet after the patient died.
All hospice volunteers that participate go through a training period, and once a plan is set in place, depending upon the needs of the particular hospice, the program gives them start-up funding for their first year, during which they teach how funds can be then raised for subsequent years. Each hospice organization can then choose the types of pets they want to help their patients with.
Pet Peace of Mind is offering pet care lovers undergoing palliative and hospice care a deeper meaning to maintaining quality of life that helps support the strong bond between owners and their pets so they can rest easy knowing their pets will be cared for after they’re gone.
Click here to learn more about what happens to a patient’s pet when they enter hospice care.