Our friends in the community, including our amazing volunteers, make it possible for us to offer many special programs that bring comfort to our patients and their families. Our bereavement department and our retail operations provide additional services.
This program focuses on delivering personalized music to patients with moderate to severe dementia. Volunteers create a personalized playlist, identified by each patient’s family members as significant in the patient’s life, load this playlist onto an ipod, and share with the patient using headphones.
Inspired by the documentary “Alive Inside”, which describes a music program focused on delivering personalized music to patients with moderate to severe dementia, the Volunteer Department at Hospice East Bay became a certified member of the Music and Memory Foundation in order to bring this program to our patients.
Early results have been phenomenal. Volunteers describe their patients as flashing a “spark of joy,” smiling, trying to sing, tearing up, mouthing “thank you,” and tapping to the beat. In their visit evaluations, volunteers express that patients are more engaged and responsive; make eye contact and relax their faces.
Music is a very powerful therapeutic tool because it involves many different areas of the brain. The musical experience activates the neural centers for speech, memory, movement, emotions and executive functioning. Music therapists use music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients improve their symptom management, emotional development, quality of time spent with loved ones, and quality of life.
Our clinical team includes a board-certified Music Therapist to address complex medical symptoms that lie beyond the scope of the Music & Memory program.
Music therapy interventions can be divided into active and receptive techniques. In active therapy, patients participate in creating music with instruments, voice or other objects. Receptive therapy involves playing or making music for the patient, who is free to draw, listen or meditate.
Children and teens grieve differently than adults. The way young people express their grief can be confusing to those around them, increasing their feelings of isolation and despair. For this reason, their unique needs often go unnoticed or are misunderstood by adults in their lives who are often grieving as well.
Hospice East Bay’s Bridge program supports children and teens through art, play, talk and peer support. Families may attend for as long as needed. There is a parent/guardian support group offered at the same time as the child/teen support group.
The Bridge meets twice a month throughout the school year from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm at Valhalla Elementary School, 530 Kiki Drive, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. Pre-registration is required. For more information, please contact the Bereavement Services Department at Hospice of the East Bay at (925) 887-5678.
When it becomes clear that a patient may be alone at the end of life, perhaps because their family cannot be at the bedside, hospice staff may request a Vigil when the patient transitions to actively dying.
Vigil Program Volunteers work at the bedside of actively dying patients. These specially trained volunteers help Hospice East Bay support its patients every step of the way by bringing relief to family members who are unable to be present for the death of their loved one. Most importantly, they help to ensure patients that they are not alone.
Sitting at the bedside of a patient in the final hours or days of his or her life is a great honor. Often, patients are not conscious during this time and one might assume there is no benefit to having another person in the room. Our hospice staff feels this is a time when another human’s presence can be comforting, calming and supportive – thereby reducing fear and anxiety for the patient.
Vigil Volunteers often say they enter the room of a complete stranger and leave as a special and sacred visitor. Family members regularly comment that it was especially heartwarming for them to know that their loved one was cared for so lovingly.
Respite for caregiving family members provides a much-needed, temporary break from the often exhausting challenges they face. Respite has been shown to help sustain family caregiver health and well-being and avoid or delay out-of-home placements. Studies have shown, not only can families suffer economically and emotionally, caregivers themselves may face serious health and social risks as a result of stress associated with continuous caregiving.
Many of our families cannot afford to pay for respite care on their own due to economic hardships. Hospice East Bay has outside support for two Respite Funds. The Rossmoor Respite Fund provides a break for caregivers that reside in the Rossmoor community, and our “Give Me a Break” program provides respite care in the remaining communities we serve. Families that pass a needs assessment are then provided with a pre-determined amount of paid caregiving.
It may surprise many people to learn that 25 percent of those who die every year in the U.S. are Veterans. To help provide care and support that reflect the important contributions made by these men and women, Hospice East Bay has become a national partner of We Honor Veterans, a pioneering campaign developed by National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The We Honor Veterans campaign provides tiered recognition to organizations that demonstrate a systematic commitment to improving care for Veterans. As a We Honor Veterans Partner, Hospice East Bay will conduct ongoing Veteran-centered education for their staff and volunteers to help improve the care they provide to the Veterans they proudly serve.
The resources of We Honor Veterans focus on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, and grateful acknowledgment, coupled with Veteran-centric education of health care staff caring for Veterans. By recognizing the unique needs of our nation’s Veterans who are facing a life-limiting illness, Hospice East Bay is better able to accompany and guide Veterans and their families toward a more peaceful ending.
Pet Pal Volunteers and their pets have been visiting Hospice East Bay patients and their families since 2008. They go through a meticulous certification with Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation to fulfill their therapeutic roles and offer companionship, comfort and joy.
“Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows the enormous love and acceptance pets provide. They love us unconditionally,” says Joe Lumello, Bereavement Program Director for Hospice of the East Bay. “For people who are in hospice, the comfort pets provide can be especially beneficial. Put as simply as possible, pets make people feel good.”
Animals can often reach people when human relationships may be difficult. Scientific research has shown that interaction with animals can increase responsiveness, facilitate mental alertness and revive socialization.
Liquidating an estate can be a difficult and emotionally challenging task. Hospice East Bay can help by providing reliable estate clean-out services. Hospice East Bay will meet with the estate liquidator (at no charge), determine value and scope of the cleanout, inventory all items for donation, and schedule a cleanout date.
On the scheduled date, we will transport all donations to the Hospice Thrift Shoppes, haul trash to waste disposal (disposal fees charged to the estate), and provide tax-deductible receipts for all donated goods. We will leave the home empty and ready for cleaning.
For estate cleanouts 7-10 days advance notice nessesary to schedule and arrange personnel. We sometimes have the ability to perform estate cleanouts on short notice in order to help families from out of town clean out a residence. Please feel free to call our Estate and Retail Distribution Coordinator at (925) 260-2176.
At Hospice East Bay we take our mission of compassionate care seriously and are always open to new opportunities that will reduce the stress that end of life care can sometimes bring. With this goal in mind, we created our new Volunteer Tuck-In program.
This program has been designed to ensure that each of our patients and families receive the supplies and medications needed on weekends when their regular assigned staff members will not be routinely visiting. Once a week on Thursdays, between the hours of 10am and 1pm, one of our trained hospice volunteers will call a family member or caregiver. This volunteer will be checking on supply and medication needs as well as ensuring that you have received the information and education needed to care for your loved one during the weekend.
If a family needs anything that was not previously addressed, that information will be given to the team nurse or manager immediately so they can rest assured that Hospice East Bay will respond. We hope that anticipating your needs and filling your requests will relieve any anxiety that you might have regarding medications, supplies or equipment required over a weekend.
Every few weeks, during the fall and winter months, we receive large bags stuffed full of quilts. These quilts have been lovingly made by the Scrappy Quilters, a group that has been meeting regularly since 1993 at the Mt. Diablo Education Center in Pleasant Hill.
Many of the quilts delivered to us find their way to Bruns House, our inpatient care facility in Alamo. They are carefully laid on the beds of each of the six private rooms, warmly welcoming new patients.
The families and friends of our patients love having the quilts in the rooms and are welcome to take them home as a memento. The remainder of the quilts are distributed to our home patients by our caregiving staff.