Can I talk to my sister's hospice caregivers in another state?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 09, 2016
June1947 asked...

My sister is in hospice care in Kansas City, Clay county. I'm living in Missippi county in Arkansas and want to know if I can speak to the caregivers that work with her. She has a guardian but from what she says they are taking her things from her and packing everything up like she was already gone. They have refused to let her dress or watch or listen to any of her tapes. She says it's as though they are pushing her to die. The guardian told her the doctor told her not to listen to her so I was wondering is this the way hospice works. In the end everything is taken that gives you any comfort and you are told that no matter what you say they aren't going to listen to you? Please, I am so worried about my sister.

Expert Answers

Audrey Wuerl, RN, BSN, PHN, is education coordinator for Hospice of San Joaquin in California. She is also a geriatric trainer for the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC), which promotes education in geriatric nursing and end-of-life care.

I would suggest you contact the hospice that is caring for your sister, directly, and explain your concerns. As a family member you may be able to talk to the caregivers your sister has. This is not a "given" though. If your sister has stated she only wants to speak to her guardian, for example, you may have to travel to Kansas City and see what is happening for yourself. At any rate, contacting the hospice will be your best course of action.

To be very clear, hospice is about dying with dignity and with respect. It is about comfort and caring for people at the end of their lives. It's intended to be supportive of both patient and the family. Hospices are governed by state laws and almost all hospices are Medicare certified. These laws, state and federal, are very strict and any question of violating the ethics of hospice philosophy and care would not be tolerated.

I like to say that hospice care helps patients celebrate the rest of their lives. We simply accept that death is the natural closure to life. So, to think that we would do anything to hasten that process, or deny a person their personal possessions, or of enjoying their remaining life, is the opposite of what our mission is. Again, I urge you to contact the hospice caring for your sister, and get so straight answers.