November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and HPP will be joining organizations across the nation to raise awareness for hospice and demonstrate its importance. In our Hospice Perspectives Series, people share their stories of hospice care. While these stories do feature death, they also feature profound hope, compassion, comfort, and joy. They will touch your heart and provide invaluable insight into palliative care and the end of life.
This story is written by Joyce Simard, social worker, internationally recognized speaker, author, and creator of the Namaste Care™ program.
In dementia care, stuffed animals and dolls are not for everyone. Joyce Simard, author of The End-of-Life Namaste Care Program for People with Dementia, recommends telling families and visitors about the comforting effects of these pets and babies so that they don’t think that it infantalizes patients. It’s all about providing comfort in whatever way works best for the person. Simard shares the most dramatic story she has ever heard about using realistic dolls to improve quality of life:
Abigail was a resident who had never married and had no children. She often wandered around the neighborhood, seemingly looking for something or, as it turned out, someone. One day Abigail wandered into the living room and spied a realistic doll. She took the baby in her arms and said, “At last I found you. I will never let you go again.” Abigail stopped wandering and became a loving mother who enjoyed sitting in the Namaste Care room with her “baby.” The charge nurse thought that perhaps Abigail had been forced to surrender her baby when she was a young, unmarried girl, something that would have been fairly common years ago. If indeed that had happened to her, she may have been feeling guilty about giving up her baby her entire life. Now that she had “found” her baby and could care for it, she seemed to have finally found peace in her life as she lovingly care for her child, proudly showing her to everyone.
About Namaste Care
The Namaste Care program is a holistic, end-of-life program designed for people with advanced dementia, and introduced in the book The End-of-Life Namaste Care Program for People with Dementia by Joyce Simard, M.S.W. Hailed a “must-read” by professionals in the field (read Namaste Care reviews here), the best-selling book is a guide to implementing this program within organizations that care for people with advanced dementia, including skilled nursing facilities, assisted living memory care communities, and hospice organizations.
With the goal to increase quality of life and affirm the individuality and enduring spirit of each person, Namaste Care uses sensory-based experiences such as pleasant scents, soothing music, and gentle massage. Throughout the book are these truly moving and inspiring stories of Namaste Care in action, detailing the powerful and positive ways things like hair care, hand washing and massage, and even lollipops have been used to improve the lives of people with dementia.
Portions of this post were excerpted from The End-of-Life Namaste Care Program for People with Dementia, Second Edition, by Joyce Simard. Copyright © 2013 by Health Professions Press.
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