Steptoe Butte appears in this photo’s background and on the left is an abandoned farmstead known to locals as “the Pratt Place.” The children who once played in the creek that borders the property lived good lives and have long since passed. As the buildings that once housed both family and livestock continue to deteriorate, others carry on the farming tradition. These modern farmers no longer use the horses employed in the Pratt farming operation.
I picture this photograph as depicting the journey of a man who time has forced to leave the farm life he loved. He now requires the services provided by hospice. The man continues his life’s journey while receiving compassionate medical care. The climb up the steep sides of Steptoe Butte may be tiring, but Kindred Hospice is there to help the man and his loved ones deal with life’s increasing challenges. Because the man must no longer climb alone, there is an astounding increase in the quality of his life. Together this man, his loved ones, and their hospice team journey up the mountain. Together they reach the Butte’s summit, mourn together and celebrate the completion of his life’s journey.
In the photo, the Friends of Hospice, a non profit organization that supports the work of hospice, can be likened to the rainbow: a symbol of hope and promise. The Friends are not the hospice organization. They do not provide nursing care. But the Friends support and enhance the work of Kindred in a great many ways as the hospice team carries out their very important work.
Should the patient need a lift chair or a ramp into the home, the Friends provide it. Should the patient want to tell future generations what life was like when horses were essential, a Friends program called Living Legacy sends someone into the home to record his story and make it available to his loved ones. Future generations will not only learn the family story, they’ll hear it in the patient’s voice.
Many patients will benefit from a gentle massage, which shows dramatic improvement in the quality of a their life. The Friends rainbow of caring provides this licensed therapist. Knowing that hospice patients are not the only ones in need of compassion and care, Friends provides caregiver massage as well.
Friends of Hospice works closely with the Threshold Choir of the Palouse, which offers spiritually comforting music by the bedside. This music brings great peace in often difficult situations. Friends also supports the work of a harpist, who offers soothing music.
Some patients may benefit by yet another musical program called Music & Memory, in which the Friends supply headphones and an iPod Shuffle which has been programmed with the patient’s “go to” music. For an old farmer this music might be country and western. Another patient might prefer classical music, and yet another show tunes.
Other services offered by Friends of Hospice include monthly grief support groups in Colfax and Pullman; 8-week grief support groups three times a year; and Advance Care Planning workshops to prepare for end of life decisions. All services may be found on their website: friendsofhospice.net/. And all are provided free of charge.
There you have it. Kindred Hospice does the incredibly important work of caring for folks nearing the end of their earthly lives, and each step of the way they are fully supported and their work is enhanced by the multi-hued rainbow that is the Friends of Hospice.