Hospice care is a philosophy of special, compassionate care that reaches beyond the traditional spectrum of treatments for disease or disorders. It’s a positive option for those who are nearing end-of-life, when curative measures and treatments are no longer viable, or desired. Hospice is a way to maximize one’s quality-of-life, focusing on pain management and symptom control, rather than curative treatments.
Palliative care is similar to hospice care in that the same principles of pain management and symptom control are applied. Hospice Care of the Lowcountry is uniquely licensed to provide palliative – or comfort – care to those with a terminal illness, even while they are still seeking curative treatment for their condition. We are the only hospice in the Lowcountry that is licensed to offer this service.
Multiple studies have shown that the average number of emergency department visits of terminally-ill patients is reduced when patients are receiving palliative care services. This further substantiates that palliative care not only alleviates suffering, but also will prevent avoidable visits to the ER in the future for your loved one.
End-of-life care is another way to describe hospice care – providing pain management and symptom control for a patient with a terminal illness, so that they can maximize their quality of life, rather than seeking curative treatments.
Comfort care is another way to describe hospice or palliative care – providing pain management and symptom control for a patient with a terminal illness, regardless of whether they are still seeking curative treatments or not.
When the patient and the family are no longer interested in seeking curative treatment for their illness, their physician will determine what their life expectancy will be. If they have a life expectancy of six months or less, most treatments are no longer effective and seeking treatment will only prolong the patient’s pain and suffering – it’s usually time for hospice care.
Once a patient who is suffering from a life-limiting or terminal illness reaches the point at which treatments and curative measures are no longer a viable option – his or her physician will typically make the recommendation and referral to hospice. Generally speaking, the sooner hospice care is initiated, the better, as it is designed to provide much-needed physical, emotional and spiritual support to the patient as well as his or her loved ones.
The Hospice Care of the Lowcountry team involves a holistic approach that includes quality physical, emotional, and spiritual care – offered by a coordinated and compassionate team of professionals and volunteers, for patients and their families.
HCL’s professional team includes:
- The patient’s own primary care physician
- Our Medical Director
- Registered Nurses – many of whom are nationally certified in hospice and palliative care
- Certified Nursing Assistants
- Social Workers
- Physical, speech, occupational, and music therapists
- Volunteer and bereavement services coordinators
- Certified bereavement counselors
- A full administrative support team
- Volunteers, who can help with everything from daily activities to taking care of the patient’s pets
Hospice patients and their loved ones have the ability to choose when and where to receive care. Some end-of-life patients choose to remain in the hospital or other healthcare facility in which they were previously receiving medical treatments for their illness. Others prefer to transition back into their home environment, where they can receive personal care in a place in which they feel most comfortable and at ease, surrounded by those they love.
Hospice Care of the Lowcountry’s main goal is to provide patients with compassionate, quality care in familiar surroundings where they can enjoy peace of mind and the comfort of having loved ones close at hand.
Hospice is NOT:
- A last resort
- A place to go and die
- A way to hasten death
- A way to postpone death
- A way to prolong life
- An indication that you or your family have given up
The first step in determining whether hospice care is the right option is to start a conversation. This includes consulting with your primary healthcare professional to discuss diagnosis and whether treatments are still worth pursuing and also talking things over with those who are most important in the patient’s life. Generally speaking, a patient must have a life expectancy of six months or less, and will usually have one of the following illnesses:
- Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease
- End-Stage Cardiac Disease
- End-Stage Lung Disease
- End-Stage Liver Disease
- End-Stage Renal Disease
- Neurological Conditions
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Recurrent or Intractable Infection
- Progressive Malnutrition
- Pressure Ulcers
The quantity of visits from the hospice nurse varies depending on the individual patient and their needs. If a patient needs daily visits from the nurse in order to maintain their pain, then they will see the nurse everyday – other patients may only need weekly visits.
Yes – we recommend that the patient continue to seek advice from their primary care physician as well as our medical director.
The family of the patient can be as involved as the patient desires. We also offer an abundance of services for family members of the patient specifically, from spiritual counseling to volunteer services.
The family will be in continuous contact with the patient’s nurse, physical therapist, spiritual counselor, social worker, and volunteers.
Yes – hospice care goes to wherever the patient is. Our services are provided in the location of the patient’s choosing – house, apartment, assisted living residence, nursing facility, or any other place that the patient considers their home.
Should children with a terminal illness be on hospice care?
In April of 2009, Hospice Care of the Lowcountry extended their services to include children. We have provided services to children since 1982, but are proud to now be affiliated with the national Kids Path Organization. We are one of only two hospices in the state to offer this unique and critical program.
Kids Path is a unique program for children and families that includes services for children with progressive, potentially life-threatening illnesses from the time of diagnosis through the course of the illness. Physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support, counseling, and care is provided with a goal of enhancing the child’s quality of life and attempting to achieve some sense of normalcy for children, teens and their families.
The hospice nurse will be on-call with the patient 24/7, but will not stay with them for that same amount of time – due to them having other patients they take care of. If the patient is in need of round-the-clock care, we advise the family to hire a home-health agency, who can provide someone that stays with the patient at all times.
A patient’s health can, in fact, improve on hospice care. Because the patient is no longer forcing their body to undergo grueling treatments and surgeries; oftentimes, they begin to do better when they start to focus on providing relief from their pain and addressing their symptoms. If their health does improve, the patient will have to come off of hospice care treatment for a time. But because their illness is terminal, they usually will be put back on hospice care when their pain becomes unbearable again.
Once a patient on hospice care dies, we stay in touch with the patient’s family for 13 months following the death. Because that year will include many “firsts,” on-going support is vital to help survivors on their path to healing. Volunteers will send scheduled mailings, information packets and special “care notes” to lend support and let families know that we are available if they need us. From support groups to spiritual counseling, we want to help you deal with your loved one’s death in the most healing way possible.
As a nonprofit organization, we have relied on the generosity of individual donors, as well as local area businesses and community organization, for more than 30 years. We ask for support so that we may continue to offer the exceptional variety of programs and expert level of patient care we have offered for decades. Donors can rest assured that their money will not be used for profit, or dispersed among several different nonprofit organizations. Every dollar donated to Hospice Care of the Lowcountry goes directly to the organization and our patients. We are 100% covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans.
If a patient does not have any type of insurance coverage, Hospice Care of the Lowcountry is guided by its mission to care for anyone in need, regardless of ability to pay. We are also 100% covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans.
A patient with cancer can at any time choose to return to curative treatment, such as chemotherapy, but they must leave hospice care for the duration of their treatment. They may return to hospice care if they decide not to stop curative treatments again.
The misguided notion that grief is something to work through and “finish” is hurting, rather than helping people. Feelings of loss and sadness are common and inevitable, even years after an actual death occurred. However, as time passes the intensity of the feelings will lessen and for some people, the intensity may be delayed and won’t even be felt until much later.
A caregiver is an unpaid individual, typically the spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor, who provide full-time care for a patient. Finding yourself in a caregiver’s role can feel daunting, especially in the beginning when you’re faced with a myriad of new responsibilities like medication tracking, medical appointments, and providing comfort care. Hospice Care of the Lowcountry works to take the burden off the caregiver, so that they can spend this period of time appreciating their loved one too.
Our volunteers at Hospice Care of the Lowcountry ensure the pet is focused on so the family can focus on the patient, while ensuring that the pet remains a healthy and dedicated part of the family too. Volunteers may provide exercise as well as trips to the vet and groomer.
Our program, Pet Peace of Mind, allows patients to complete their end-of-life journey without worrying about their pet’s current or future needs. The initiative provides volunteer pet care services for patients who are unable to care for their pets, while they’re on hospice care. Pet Peace of Mind services include:
- Assistance with pet food
- Financial assistance with routine veterinary care
- Transporting the pet to veterinary and grooming appointments
- Pet boarding
An important part of the hospice process involves planning ahead for what will occur once the patient’s end-of-life journey has come to a close. Thinking of these things is never easy, but doing so – and taking the necessary steps to ensure that the patient’s wishes are honored – can provide much-needed peace of mind during this challenging time. Some of the things to consider when planning for the next step in the process include:
- Durable Power of Attorney
The person who a patient designates to become their “surrogate” in the event that the patient is no longer capable of making medical decisions, due to physical limitations or a deficient mental state.
- Health Directives
Written documentation containing a person’s specific preferences to be carried out in the event they’re unable to communicate their wishes directly.
Wills and trusts provide the ability to specify precisely what actions will be carried out following death, such as financial assets.
- Advanced Directives
Covers all of the above documentation that relates to medical care, including a living will and a healthcare power of attorney.
An advanced directive, also known as a living will, is one of the most important documents you will need in preparing for end-of-life. This document lays out the type of medical treatment you want – things like feeding tubes, life-saving medications, treatments, etc. This document clearly outlines your wishes regarding your health and the treatment you receive.
A durable power of attorney (POA) is another important document you will need in preparing for end-of-life. Having a POA in place gives the person you chose to be your proxy the ability to be able to speak for you and ensures that your wishes get carried out in the event you are unable to speak for yourself. This person can be a spouse family member, or a friend.
Many patients benefit from music therapy provided in group and individual settings by a licensed music therapist. Patients may choose to listen, sing along, or learn to play instruments. This therapy has been proven to manage stress and anxiety, alleviate pain, and improve mood. In turn, physiological changes result with improved respiration, lower blood pressure, reduced heartrate and relaxed muscle tension.
Twenty-five percent of those who die every year in the U.S. are Veterans. To help provide care and support that reflect important contributions made by these men and women, Hospice Care of the Lowcountry has become a national partner of “We Honor Veterans,” a pioneering campaign developed by The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veteran Affairs. The resources of We Honor Veterans focus on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, and grateful acknowledgement, coupled with Veteran-centric education of health care staff caring for Veterans.
Hop Aboard is voluntarily made available to those patients and families with an interest in boating, and being on the water again. Yacht owners in the Lowcountry community invite HCL patients and their caregivers aboard their vessels for a couple relaxing hours on the water.
Our mission is: Hospice Care of the Lowcountry is the gold standard in healthcare, care coordination and counseling for hospice and palliative care. We bring the community to you with hundreds of volunteers. As a non-profit, our focus is on delivering the very best care when you need it. You choose your hospice – home care, nursing home or hospital – we come to you. Your choice, our privilege.
Our team consists of:
- Medical Director
- Executive Director
- Clinical Director
- Clinical Compliance Office
- Office Manager
- Clinical Administrative Assistant
- Administrative Assistant
- Community Relations & Marketing
- Hospice Aides
- Nursing Staff
- Spiritual Counseling
- Counseling Team
- Licensed Master Social Workers
- Volunteer Coordinator
- Physical Therapy
At Hospice Care of the Lowcountry, our team is always available to help you out! If you would like assistance, advice, or grief support, please contact us today. Our office is located at 7 Plantation Park in Bluffton, South Carolina. You can reach us at 843-706-2296 or by email at [email protected].
Our programs of care include:
This compassionate care for the terminally ill is designed to manage pain and control symptoms. The care extends to the family, providing emotional and spiritual support.
The same hospice principles are applied to those with a terminal diagnosis, while they seek life-prolonging treatments.
Grief support and home care for children coping with illness and loss.
Services are offered to the entire community at no charge by a licensed grief counselor.
Through respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgement, we recognize the unique needs of our nation’s Veterans who are facing a life-limiting illness; we are able to accompany and guide them and their families toward a more peaceful ending.
Volunteers and their specially trained dogs visit with our patients, as well as residents in local care facilities.
Keeping hospice patients and their pets together is the focus of this program. Services may include veterinary care, dog walking, grooming, and transportation.
Many patients benefit from music therapy provided by a licensed music therapist.
Patients are given the opportunity to share their story, leave messages of love and encouragement, and share wisdom from life experiences.
Yacht owners in our community invite our patients and their caregivers aboard their yachts for a couple of relaxing hours on the water.
Kids Path is a unique program for children and families that is offered by hospices in North and South Carolina. Services include care for children with progressive, potentially life-threatening illnesses from the time of diagnosis through the course of the illness. Physical, emotional, social and spiritual support, counseling and care is provided with a goal of enhancing the quality of life and attempting to achieve some sense of normalcy for children, teens and those who share their lives. The program offers three levels of care:
- Grief Services
To meet the unique needs of children and their families by offering information, support and a safe place to express their feelings.
- Home Healthcare (Goal-directed care)
Intermittent skilled nursing visits at home, per doctor’s orders, for children with serious life-threatening medical conditions with a poor prognosis.
- Hospice (End-of-life care)
For children with a terminal diagnosis and life expectancy of six months or less, per doctor’s certification.
For those who have suffered a loss, counseling is available to our community through our Bereavement Services department. It makes no difference regarding whether the person who died was a HCL patient, where the person lives, or the relationship of the survivor. It also doesn’t matter how long ago the loss occurred.
We stay in touch with our patients’ families for 13 months following the death of their loved one. Because that year will include many “firsts,” on-going support is vital to help survivors on their path to healing. Volunteers send scheduled mailings, information packets and special “care notes” to lend support and let families know that we are available if they need us.
We Honor Veterans is a campaign developed by The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which implements ongoing Veteran-centered education for our staff and volunteers to help improve the care they provide to the Veterans the serve.
By recognizing the unique needs of our nation’s Veterans who are facing a life-limiting illness, Hospice Care of the Lowcountry is better able to accompany and guide Veterans and their families toward a more peaceful ending. And in cases where there might be some specific needs related to the Veteran’s military service, combat experience or other traumatic events, Hospice Care of the Lowcountry will identify tools to help support those for whom they are caring.
Hos-Pets is our volunteer pet therapy program which boasts a volunteer staff of 85 certified Canine Good Citizen Dogs. These gentle, nurturing animals and their owners provide pet therapy to our patients at home and in local community healthcare facilities.
Whether in a private residence or a nursing facility, pet therapy creates an opportunity for socialization between patients and volunteers. Contact with therapy dogs can trigger the release of endorphins in a person’s brain and significantly reduce patient anxiety. Pet-assisted therapy also promotes physical movement by the patients.
Pet Peace of Mind allows patients to complete their end-of-life journey without worrying about their pet’s current or future needs. The initiative provides volunteer pet care services for patients who are unable to care for the pets, while on hospice.
HCL’s Music Therapy program helps patients with pain relief and relaxation – many patients benefit from music therapy provided in group and individual settings by a licensed music therapist. Patients may choose to listen, sing along, or learn to play instruments. This has been proven to manage stress and anxiety, alleviate pain, and improve mood. In turn, physiological changes result with improved respiration, lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate and relaxed muscle tension.
Hospice Care of the Lowcountry’s Jean Myers Video Memoirs program was born out of the belief that preserving a life story is a valuable gift of love and life. There is a healing nature about sharing one’s life story, and many find the video memoirs program to be therapeutic for both patients and their loved ones.
Hop Aboard is an initiative voluntarily made available to patients and their families who have an interest in boating and being on the water. Yacht owners in the Lowcountry community invite Hospice Care of the Lowcountry patients and their caregivers aboard their vessels for a couple of relaxing hours on the water.
As a non-profit organization, we have relied on the generosity of individual donors, as well as local area business and community organizations, for more than 30 years. We kindly ask for your support so that we may continue to offer the exceptional variety of programs and expert level of patient care we have offered for decades. Donors can rest assured that their money will not be used for profit, or dispersed among several different non-profit organizations. Every dollar donated to Hospice Care of the Lowcountry goes directly into Hospice Care of the Lowcountry.
Hospice Care of the Lowcountry was founded in 1982 by a compassionate group of friends gathered around a kitchen table on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. They knew of friends who were experiencing great pain and who wanted to be at home with loved ones as they neared the end of their lives, but were isolated in unfamiliar surroundings.
This situation was the convention of the time and the hospice movement was still very new in the U.S. The challenge of bringing such a concept to a small island in the South must have seemed particularly daunting, but the group’s passionate desire to help inspired them to persevere.
Eventually, after meeting with local hospital and healthcare professionals, the “Hospice Volunteers of Hilton Head” organization was formed. The small entity had limited finances, but was rich with a most essential resource – hearts filled with compassion for neighbors in need.
Over the years, as the pioneers were able to educate the community and spread positive information regarding the benefits of hospice care, the organization grew. Funds were raised, vital resources were added and a staff member was hired. Most importantly, dozens of patients and their families were able to receive the compassionate, quality care they deserved – care provided by dedicated volunteers and, eventually, a professional staff.
Hospice Volunteers became licensed by the state in 1993, which led to Medicare certification a few months later. When the organization began serving two counties, Beaufort and Jasper, its name was fittingly changed to “Hospice Volunteers of the Lowcountry.”
In 1995, the need to broaden the scope of our care resulted in the addition of our Palliative Home Health Care agency. This dual licensure allowed Hospice Care of the Lowcountry to begin caring for those who are terminally ill, yet still seeking curative treatment.
Soon following this additional certification, the agency decided, in the interest of better reflecting growth and increased professionalism, to remove the word “volunteers” from its name and became known as “Hospice Care of the Lowcountry.”
Hospice Care of the Lowcountry is an independent, community-based, nonprofit organization, serving Beaufort and Jasper counties for more than 30 years. It was established to give comfort and honor dignity for end-of-life patients and their families through compassionate physical, emotional and spiritual care, regardless of their financial circumstances. We help our valued patients and their families experience the fullness and dignity they deserve, even as they face the anxieties associated with the end-of-life.
Hospice Care of the Lowcountry could not provide the compassionate work we do without the excellent support of our caring and dedicated volunteers. Volunteers provide a variety of services to assist the patient, family, organization or community. Here are some of the ways you can volunteer:
- Patient-Family Advocates
Visit with patients and their families in the home, often giving the primary caregiver a break.
- Administrative Volunteers
Help in the HCL offices by filing records, writing thank-you notes, answering phones, etc.
- Bereavement Volunteers
Provide direct and indirect support to the bereaved family and friends.
- Vigil Volunteers
Experienced volunteers who sit in shifts with actively dying patients who have no family members present, when requested.
- Community Outreach & Fundraising Volunteers
Help share information with our community or assist in raising funds to support our mission.
- Hos-Pet Volunteers
A volunteer and their pet who undergo special training to be certified Ho-Pet visitors in local nursing homes, assisted living residences and patient’s homes, when requested.
- Pet Peace of Mind Volunteers
Ensuring the pet of the home remains taken care of, through exercise and trips to the vet and groomer.
- We Honor Veterans Volunteers
Focuses on the relationship between patient veterans and volunteer veterans, with compassionate listening, respectful inquiry and grateful acknowledgment to their service.
HCL has two Medical Directors – Dr. Robert Rouillard and Dr. Laura Knobel, who bring over 30 years of experience in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology, and Hematology with them. They, along with the hospice care team, work closely with a patient’s trusted healthcare provider to ensure that our joint focus remains on making the end-of-life process as painless and stress-free as possible. They are available for home visits and consults, and are passionate about providing the most compassionate care and improving our patient’s quality of life, preserving their dignity as they navigate this difficult journey.
We hold many fundraising events throughout the year, but our biggest and most successful in raising awareness and funds is the Yacht Hop on Hilton Head Island. The Yacht Hop is our largest annual fundraiser, and takes place in the Harbour Town Yacht Basin in the Sea Pines Resort. Guests are invited to step aboard stunning yachts and be treated to mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres prepared fresh by some of the area’s premier chefs. Guests also enjoy music by The Headliners and silent and live auctions. All proceeds benefit Hospice Care of the Lowcountry’s patient care programs.