What resonates most with me about the month of November is the feeling I have towards hospice and the care that they give to families during a time when they are facing a death of a loved one. November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and it’s a time that we, in funeral service, should be showing to our local hospices the gratefulness we have for the caring ways they serve our communities.
Thus, I dedicate this blog to all the members of organizations that provide hospice and palliative care. I thank them for all that they do, as it’s a very difficult job that I could no way perform. Being a funeral professional, I have always admired hospice nurses and volunteers. When I owned my funeral, cremation, and cemetery company I did all that I could for 38 years to thank and support hospice and palliative care programs in their efforts to provide compassionate care to our families. I felt that we were partners in caring for families and we needed each other to better care for families who mourn, both before and after the death. It is my hope that all of you reading this blog feel the same.
I personally experienced the wonderful care that hospice programs give in 2008 when my mom, Jill, died from lung cancer. She was diagnosed 10 years before, had her right lobe removed, and then lived with partial oxygen levels with a limited lifestyle for the next 10 years. As a funeral director, I had never been on the receiving side of hospice care. Mom’s cancer returned in March of 2007, and we spent that next year with her fighting cancer and what we all knew was coming, the inevitable end of her life on earth. When the doctor shared that it was time for hospice care I reached out to a close friend for help, who was a nurse and owned her own home health care agency and hospice.
During the month and a half of my mom’s hospice care, my brothers and I never felt alone. We were well educated, had all our questions answered, and found not only caring compassion for us but an advocate for mom’s level of care. Basically, they “held our hands” through the entire process to the end. I found that the care we received from them modeled the care we wish to provide in our profession. I understood hospice so much better after this experience and in turn, it helped me become a better caregiver and advocate for hospice.
As I think more about this experience and the relationship that funeral service companies have with their local hospices, I wonder if you feel as I do—which is gratefulness for their service. I hear time and time again from funeral professionals that hospice is really a competitor, that they always recommend the “cheapest” alternative and can hurt your business. If you feel like this is true, I challenge you to think differently as a funeral professional. There are so many similarities between the caring services we provide and the relationships we build with the families we both serve. I believe we need to do a better job in our profession to build stronger relationships on a local level with our hospice providers.
How do you do this? I could dedicate a few hours to teaching you best practices on the “how to’s”, but then this blog would be so long that you might stop reading it! However, let’s talk more if you seek answers to improving your relationships with your local hospices.
Below are 5 tips to consider. If you are not performing a minimum of these, I encourage you to reach out and connect with me so that I may help you learn ways you can grow your hospice connections with organizations. Hospice programs are the #1 key recommenders to your business and a group of compassionate caregivers like us that need to hear and feel our gratefulness—always.
- Reach out, and create relationships with the leaders
- Offer education and tours of your facilities
- Feed them and attend their staff lunches
- Show your appreciation with rewards and invites
- Give back to their clients
My best always,