Hospice patients are often concerned about the future wellness of their pets as they near the end of life, and some providers are working with organizations that help address those needs as an ancillary service.
Case in point, Oregon-based Hospice of Redmond in August began working with the organization Pet Peace of Mind to find safe homes for patients’ pets. Worries about their pets can contribute to great stress and anxiety for dying patients, impacting quality of life, according to Tania Crawford, volunteer coordinator at Hospice of Redmond.
The organization also deploys volunteers to help families care for animals in the home.
“In our quest to provide the absolute highest level of patient care, we saw the need to fully incorporate pets into our care model,” Crawford said in a blog post. “Our volunteers can help with a pet’s daily needs – things like walking, feeding, and cleaning litter boxes. We can get pets to grooming and veterinary appointments. We can ensure everything the pet needs, including food, litter, and medication, is on hand and organized.”
Programs that go beyond the traditional realm of hospice care can help providers distinguish themselves in the marketplace. Examples include pet programs, services tailored to veterans and complementary care like massage or aroma and music therapy.
Hospice of Redmond is not alone in its efforts to help patients with their pets. Earlier this month, Cornerstone Hospice, an affiliate of Chapters Health System, received the Ingrid Thronquist Award from Pet Peace of Mind, naming the hospice provider the organization’s partner of the year for 2023.
“Pets relieve so much of the stress and anxiety that comes from dealing with a chronic illness,” Diane Anderson, manager of volunteer services, Cornerstone Hospice said in a statement. “That makes this program essential and we’re excited for the impact it can have on more patients as it becomes fully integrated throughout the Chapters Health System of affiliates.”
A new initiative from Pet Peace of Mind allows families to create a type of legally binding “advance care plan” for their pets, designating who will care for them after a patients’ death. The program is also available to patients who are unable to continue caring for their pets due to serious or terminal illness.
The program includes guidance on how to coordinate with banks to establish ongoing financial support for the pet as they enter their new homes, including periodic monetary disbursements.
The documents associated with the pet placement plans are notarized, according to Diane McGill, founder and president of Pet Peace of Mind.
“Anyone that is in a position where they’re wondering about what’s going to happen to their pet if they get too sick to care for the pet, or what will happen to the pet when they pass, their caregiver can download the document from our site and go through it with the patient,” McGill told Hospice News. “A caregiver can certainly complete the form, but when you get to the notarized page, the patient will have to sign it and be present upon the notarization.”