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Sponsored Content: Journey Hospice
Compassionate, holistic and spiritual support during an advanced illness.

by Liz Hunter

For anyone dealing with a serious illness or a diagnosis that sadly limits their time left on Earth, making the decision to explore hospice care does not always come easily, and often it comes too late.
“People do get nervous about the word ‘hospice,’” says Darlene Thurber, executive director of Journey Hospice. “A lot of what we do is to educate the community about the Medicare hospice benefit and the care people are entitled to. Sometimes a referral comes too late [in the progression of the diagnosis] and the person passes before we can even bring them into our care.”
Journey Hospice provides hospice and palliative care services in people’s homes, assisted living or nursing home facilities, and since it was purchased by Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey, these services are now available at Lutheran Crossings at Moorestown, a senior care community offering assisted living, skilled nursing, memory support and rehabilitation. Palliative care differs from hospice in that it assists patients in managing the symptoms of chronic diseases while they continue aggressive therapies to fight their illness, but because Journey Hospice offers hospice care as well, when and if the patient chooses to transition, it’s a smooth process.
In order to qualify for hospice care, a physician needs to certify that a patient is facing a terminal diagnosis, but all it takes is one phone call to Journey Hospice and they will handle the rest. “Once we evaluate the patient and determine that the criteria are met, we provide hospice care with a full interdisciplinary team that includes experienced medical professionals, RN case managers, therapists, spiritual counselors and home health aides, among others,” Thurber says, adding many families don’t even realize the other aspects the hospice benefit covers. “We work directly with Medicare to cover the costs of their medications, any medical equipment they may require such as a hospital bed or wheelchair. All of this is a cost savings to the patient and family.”
Once under Journey Hospice’s care, patients and their families are often pleasantly surprised by the gamut of services available. “We provide holistic care, which means it’s focused on caring for the whole person,” says Donna Bingenheimer, BSN, RN, LMT, CCAP, a case manager and licensed massage therapist at Journey Hospice. “We look at the patient physically, emotionally and spiritually and look at integrative, complementary and alternative approaches that could benefit them. It’s not just about giving them medication.”
Every member of the Journey Hospice team plays a significant role in the patient’s quality of life. Home health aides provide assistance with daily living activities— bathing, grooming, dressing and meals— but they don’t stop there. “I look at hospice home aides as providing pampered care,” says Thurber. “They are not just there to help with those tasks, but also to take the patient outside and walk with them in their wheelchair, or sit on their porch, do their nails—just fuss over them.”
In addition to physical, occupational and speech therapies, massage therapy, reflexology and aromatherapy are other facets that can provide immense comfort and relief to patients.
Bingenheimer says she will talk to the patient and conduct an assessment, asking about any areas of pain or discomfort, scents they like or don’t like. “I may use lavender lotion or sweet orange, choosing the correct essential oil and the correct way to administer it,” she says. “If that person is experiencing pain, it diminishes. If they are having trouble sleeping or have anxiety, it subsides and they sleep. Even for those who are transitioning to end-of-life and seem to be unable to let go, I might do a technique from the Healing Touch program and it helps them move on to the next part of their journey.”
She says this element of touch is something the health care community has gotten away from. “When a person has massage or Healing Touch, it’s like we are touching their hearts. It’s about looking at the root of their pain and anxiety. What is triggering it? It can be a deep emotional or spiritual element and they may need to heal resentments or regrets they’ve had in life. Healing is about making the person whole again, and sometimes it’s not about a physical thing,” says Bingenheimer.
Journey Hospice also offers a 13-month bereavement program for caregivers and the extended family, providing support services after their loved one passes through meetings and checking in with phone calls and visits while they heal through the grief period.
Thurber says the feedback they hear from families is heartwarming and has contributed to Journey Hospice’s 2019 Hospice Honors Elite award by HEALTHCAREfirst. She says just a few hundred hospices out of thousands across the U.S. are on the Elite level, which is determined by family feedback.

Journey Hospice
(Part of Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey)

Egg Harbor Township
609-380-4302 |

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Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 16, Issue 6 (September 2019).

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