by Denna Grangaard
 
Hospice of North Idaho has been the community’s trusted nonprofit hospice for 36 years, currently serving families in Kootenai, Shoshone and Benewah counties. In 2016, 1,041 families trusted Hospice to support their journey alongside their loved one. It’s unique, comprehensive approach begins with caregiver support.

Hospice of North Idaho provides guidance and education for those entering a caregiving role or considering that task. Many caregivers are a family member or a close friend that do not know what to expect during the end-of-life journey. Hospice’s care ensures that the caregiver feels supported in their role.

Hospice nurses and social workers are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, to ensure that questions are answered. “For me, I just wanted to know that my questions were normal, and that what my mom was experiencing was normal. What I learned from Hospice is that dying and talking about her dying process was normal.” recalls Liz Andersen, RN, now a referral nurse at Hospice of North Idaho. 

As a disease progresses, the level of required care increases. Hospice advocates for the community to reach out early and curb caregiver overwhelm. Without Hospice’s services, caregivers may suddenly find that they are unable to physically do the work, struggle to keep up with insurance billing and be at a loss for how to keep their loved one comfortable, It may even become unmanageable to transport their loved one to medical appointments. Hospice of North Idaho provides a full range of specialty care, including palliative care, nursing, nursing aides, grief and loss support, support for patient caregivers and volunteer care.

“Our goal is to make sure our patients are safe and comfortable. That’s why caregiver support is also very important,” affirms hospice nurse Lori Schneider, RN. “Supporting the caregiver is vital.” Caregivers receive medication education for the patient, equipment, supplies and volunteer services. In-home care eliminates the need to travel to medical appointments.

Emotional support during and after caregiving is supported by compassionate councelors and spiritual coordinators. With Hospice services, there is no need to track insurance benefits because Hospice manages billing. Services are covered in part by Medicare, Medicaid, VA benefits or private insurance. Unique to Hospice of North Idaho, all remaining costs are eligible for charitable care, making services free to the community.

Respite volunteers relieve in-home caregivers for up to a few hours each week. Hospice of North Idaho also has the only in-patient hospice unit in the state of Idaho, the Schneidmiller House, offering up to five-day respite stays each month. Families may stay overnight, use the kitchen and walk the acres of gardens. Options are fully supported by community-funded care and available to all patients.  

Denna Grangaard is director of communication at Hospice of North Idaho, located at 9493 N. Government Way, in Hayden. For more information about added support, education and services available at no cost, call 208-772-7994.