For more than five years, Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Care has been providing end-of-life care that honors the dignity, comfort, and spiritual well-being of our patients and families. Our multidisciplinary care team honors the diversity of Jewish sensibilities and spiritual perspectives around life and death while caring for patients of all faiths. As HSL Hospice Care goes into its sixth year, we took some time to reflect on the last five years of exceptional care across the Boston area during the most important time of life for our patients.
Volunteers are very important to providing the best quality of life possible for our long-term chronic care hospital (LTCH) patients at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center (HRC). From being a friendly visitor, to a wheelchair transporter, to a bingo caller or “meal mate,” volunteers have endless opportunities to make a patient’s life brighter. But there is another significant role for volunteers, one that can offer immeasurable support and comfort to our patients and their families—that of an end-of-life volunteer.
Hospice care provides comfort and improves quality of life for many patients, but it is still underutilized even though the Medicare hospice benefit has been available to qualified patients since the early 1980s.
During his time as a chaplain at Hebrew SeniorLife and Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, Rabbi Herman J. Blumberg was known for his wisdom, kindness, and overwhelming compassion.
Rabbi Blumberg’s “passion project” was to establish a hospice service at HSL. He strongly believed that seniors in the local Jewish community, in particular, deserved better end-of-life care and that HSL was the perfect organization to provide that care. Thanks in no small part to Rabbi Blumberg’s commitment, HSL Hospice Care launched in 2013. He served as Rabbinic Director from the program’s inception to his retirement in 2015.
Hebrew SeniorLife has a new Executive Director of Home and Community-Based Services, Maureen Bannan, RN, MA. I recently spoke with Maureen about her experiences working in health care and her vision for Hebrew SeniorLife.
Can you share a little bit about your experience in home and community health services?
Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Care volunteer Bill Shulman comes from a family with deep roots in Boston’s Jewish Community and a connection to Hebrew SeniorLife that spans generations. I sat down with him recently to learn about his experience as a hospice volunteer.
JD: There are many volunteer opportunities in Boston. What motivated you to become an HSL Hospice Care volunteer?
In this season of graduations, I was privileged to attend the ceremony honoring Boston-based Hebrew SeniorLife’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program’s class of 2015. I was moved by the depth of compassion and humility expressed by the graduates as they shared reflections on their experiences as CPE students. Their stories poignantly illustrated what it means to be part of a faith-based organization.
In the United States, the 65-year-old and older population is projected to double to 71.5 million by 2030 and grow to 86.7 million by 2050. These seniors will need more services than are currently available. And perhaps more important, they also bring expectations: a desire that their senior years should and can be lived to the fullest.
At Hebrew SeniorLife, we are committed to honoring the wishes of our elders. In fact, honoring and respecting our seniors is rooted in our 108-year history and in our mission.
As I look back on 2014, I am extremely proud of Hebrew Rehabilitation Center and the accomplishments that have furthered our mission and prepared us for the future.
I just finished reading Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, MD, MPH. In his book, Dr. Gawande, a nationally known surgeon, writer, and public health researcher, discusses end-of-life care, the many issues with traditional nursing home care in this country and the ways in which long-term care should be re-imagined.