Coming to the Senses
This program involves assembling a collection of sensory objects that connect the patient to pleasing sensations and memories from earlier in life. It can be a powerful way of calming the senses and reconnecting the individual to the comforts they have known. Popular items include:
- Aromatic elements such as soaps, perfumes, teas, herbs, and other natural and man-made scents
- Favorite tastes from the past, such as chocolates and favorite delicacies
- Tactile elements such as soft, cuddly items
- Music and music collections and sounds
- Photos and other keepsakes
Patients with Alzheimer’s and related dementias often have active senses that provide an “open window” to calm and comfort, even into the late stages of the disease. This program empowers those feelings to remain accessible.
Creative outlets of expression allow complex and strong feelings to be rendered in tangible forms that have the power to express things that words alone cannot. In a safe, non-judgmental setting, under the guidance of professionals, Center for Hospice Care Expressive Arts programs work to help people process the emotions related to loss.
- Programs run for 6 weeks, meeting once per week.
- Programs incorporate language, color, shape, texture, imagery, and other interpretive design elements. No artistic skill is required.
- Pet Therapy, which involves the use of trained dogs as a way of providing comfort to those coping with grief, is also part of Expressive Arts. Benefits include: increased social interaction, stress reduction, blood pressure reduction, pain reduction, a positive outlet for emotions, lower anxiety and stress, reduced isolation and loneliness, and a sense of companionship with others.
- Children and adolescent programs are offered for ages 5-11, and 12-17 respectively.
- Adult programs are offered for age 17+.
The Life Review Program
The Life Review Program is an opportunity for the patient or family members to create a lasting remembrance by collecting meaningful items from the past. Unlike Coming to the Senses, Life Review is about telling the story of the patient’s past and may include:
- Letters. Correspondence and cards from loved ones
- Stories. Written or shared in some other way, to recall favorite events
- Pictures. Photo albums
- Memorabilia. Such as collections, keepsakes, and favorite personal items
- Recordings. Video or audio recordings, in which patients can recount feelings and thoughts, share words of comfort, or communicate to people not able to be present
The therapeutic value of pets has been documented since the 1700s. Since the 1970s, community programs that bring people and animals together for therapy and healing have been helping those in need. Today, Pet Therapy is an established resource that is used in schools, hospitals, senior care facilities, and hospice organizations.
- Pet Therapy offered by Center for Hospice Care is focused on using certified therapy dogs as a way of easing suffering.
- It is structured to serve people of all ages, whether the individual is a hospice patient or a family member coping with grief in the aftermath of losing a loved one.
The health benefits of pet contact
Studies have shown that the act of petting an animal can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and ease depression. Sometimes it helps former pet owners to recall the positive connections they once shared. For people of almost all ages, Pet Therapy can deliver many different benefits.
Pet Therapy for adults
- Social interaction
- Stress reduction
- Blood pressure reduction
- Pain reduction
- Lessening of emotional pain
- Reduction of boredom and idleness
Pet Therapy for children and teens
- Lifts spirits
- Provides an outlet for emotions
- Lowers anxiety and stress
- Reduces isolation and loneliness
- Builds a sense of companionship with others
- Allows and encourages communication
- Instructs gentleness and caring
Trained dogs and certified handlers
Dogs that participate in Center for Hospice Care’s Pet Therapy program are screened carefully for obedience and friendliness. All dogs are certified and their handlers carry liability insurance.
They are rabies-vaccinated and healthy. They have experience in being around many types of people and environments. They are comfortable around medical equipment and are managed by people who are trained in handling
a therapy dog.
Serving different age groups
Pet Therapy serves hospice patients by coming into the home or skilled nursing facility and facilitating contact. Even the surrounding non-hospice patients benefit from these visits. We also practice Pet Therapy in our Bereavement Center for people who come here for counseling. Groups are structured by age to ensure comfort and build peer support.
- Children: Age 5-12
- Adolescents: Age 13-17
- Adults: Age 18+
Patients near the end of life sometimes have the desire to visit or revisit places and people that have special meaning. Enabling them to do so is the purpose of Sentimental Journeys, a program offered by Center for Hospice Care and American Ambulance to all of our New London County hospice patients. Key elements of this program are:
- Any location in eastern Connecticut can be visited.
- Patients are taken via ambulance, with EMT and/or paramedic staff attending and providing medical assistance if needed.
- It’s a wonderful way to grant a wish, fulfill a final request, or enable a patient to stay in touch with earlier life experiences.
We Honor Veterans
Today, one in four dying Americans is a veteran. We Honor Veterans is a program sponsored by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs to support hospices in meeting the unique needs of veterans facing the end of the their lives. We are a proud participant in this program because we consider caring for veterans to be an honor, and we operate within criteria set forth by the We Honor Veterans program. Specifically:
- We conduct education and outreach to the veteran community in New London County.
- The clinical staff at Center for Hospice Care has received specialized training in areas such as PTSD and pain management for veteran patients, especially those who have experienced combat.
- Many times, patients who are veterans have never talked about their experiences, yet have a need to talk about them before their death. Our clinical staff has received special training to help patients express their feelings and experiences, and find peace and comfort.