A ‘Good’ Death

Free Jan. 31 community discussion
focuses on how to live well while dying

RANDOLPH – Few would likely pick a “bad” death. But what is a “good” death and how do you choose one?

Those are the questions regional hospice and health care experts will address at a Thursday, Jan. 31 event at Gifford Medical Center titled “What is a ‘Good’ Death?” The talk, a free community discussion open to all, is from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center. Continue reading

‘Start The Conversation’

All ages invited to join local experts in talking about end-of-life care options, to improve quality of life now.

Start the ConversationRANDOLPH – Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire, the Vermont Ethics Network and Gifford Medical Center’s Advanced Illness Care Team are joining to create a community discussion around end-of-life care planning.

Called “Start The Conversation,” the talk will be held on Nov. 29 from 5-6:30 p.m. in Gifford’s Conference Center at the main medical center in Randolph.

“Start The Conversation” is a public education initiative of Vermont’s Visiting Nurse and home health and hospice agencies in partnership with the Vermont Ethics Network. Collaborating with medical providers like Gifford, the talk is offered around the state. A Web site, starttheconversationvt.org, also focuses on the issue of end-of-life planning.

“In life we prepare for everything: college, marriage, children and retirement. Despite the conversations we have for these important milestones, rarely do we have conversations about how we want to be cared for at the end of our lives,” explains the site.

“Talking is the single most important thing that you can do to prepare for the death of someone you love. While difficult, the end of life can be amazingly rich. Talking about this time makes a rich ending more likely. Often such conversations are avoided out of an understandable desire to spare each other’s feelings. They need not be.”

An Advance Directive is one way to get the conversation started and experts leading this Nov. 29 talk in Randolph will talk about end-of-life options, medical decision making and how to put ones wishes in writing through an Advance Directive.

“Planning for end-of-life care before it becomes a worry is as important as all the other life plans you make. Having a plan in place makes it easier for you, your doctor and your loved ones if you are unable to tell them your health care choices because of an injury or serious illness,” explains Jared King, business development manager for Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire.

“Every moment is precious – especially at the end-of-life. Starting the conversation early can ensure that your choices are heard. It also means that when time becomes short, it can be spent doing what you most enjoy and not making last-minute decisions.”

As a psychologist and member of Gifford’s inpatient care management team, Cory Gould spends much of her day talking to patients about Advance Directives. “We spend a lot of the day holding discussions with family members about how to talk about death,” Gould says. “The beauty of bringing this discussion to the forefront is to improve the quality of all of our lives.”

If end-of-life wishes are known there is more opportunity to enjoy the present and erase the worry, Gould explains. Discussing how one wants to celebrate the end can also increase understanding about what matters most to that individual in life. “Thinking about death is a way of celebrating life,” Gould says.

For Gifford and its Advanced Illness Care Team, the talk will be the first in a series on death and dying. Titled “A ‘Good’ Death,” the series will look at what is a “good” death, family dynamics when death approaches, what happens when someone dies, grief and more. The series begins with “Start The Conversation.”

“Start The Conversation” is free and open to people of all ages. Registration is not required. The Gifford Conference Center is on the first floor of the medical center and marked by a green awning from the patient parking area. For handicap access, take the elevator from the main lobby to the first floor and follow signs to the Conference Center.

To learn more about this talk or the upcoming series, call Gould at (802) 728-2608 .

 

Gifford Launching Caregiver Support Group

Caring for the CaregiverRANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center is launching a Caregiver Support Group this November.

Open to anyone caring for a family member or loved one, the group meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 11 a.m. to noon in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center.

The group is participant-driven with members deciding how the meetings will be designed, choosing a facilitator and picking discussion topics. Samantha Medved, a licensed social worker and behavioral health specialist at Gifford, will also work with the group, providing ongoing support.

“Caregivers invest so much of themselves – both physically and mentally – into caring for others. This group is an opportunity to have time away to deal with the normal range of emotions all caregivers experience, by gaining support from peers experiencing similar issues,” Medved said.

The group is offered as part of Gifford’s efforts through the Vermont Blueprint for Health. No registration is required. Medved and the Blueprint team can be reached at 728-7100, ext. 6, with any questions.

The Gifford Conference Center is in the main medical center at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. From patient parking, the Conference Center entrance is marked with a green awning. For handicapped accessibility, take the elevator from the main lobby to the first floor and follow signs to the Conference Center.

New Healthier Living Workshop Begins Oct. 15 at Gifford

Class focuses on Chronic Disease Self-Management and peer support

Healthier Living WorkshopA new Chronic Disease Self-Management Healthier Living Workshop series begins Oct. 15 and continues Mondays through Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Gifford Medical Center.

Healthier Living Workshops are six-week classes for people with chronic conditions and their caregivers. They are offered for free – along with chronic pain workshops – throughout the year by Gifford as part of the Vermont Blueprint for Health.

The workshops are led by trained facilitators and are designed to help improve strength, flexibility and endurance. They also provide tips for managing medications, eating healthier and improving communications with family and friends.

The goal is to help people better manage their health conditions and deal with the frustration, fatigue, and pain that can accompany a chronic disease.

Participants also benefit from meeting other people with chronic conditions, learning how they cope and enjoying the camaraderie of knowing that they are not alone in how they’re feeling, notes Gifford workshop coordinator Susan Delattre.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, past participants report increased energy, reduced stress, more self-confidence and fewer doctors’ visits as a result.

Gifford Healthier Living Workshop participants have called the series “very relaxed and you really felt free to express yourself” and said they most enjoyed “meeting people who understand what I am going through.”

To register or for more information, call Zach Bean at Gifford’s Blueprint office at the Kingwood Health Center at (802) 728-7100, ext. 6.

The workshop will take place in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center at 44 S. Main St. From patient parking, the Conference Center is marked with a green awning. For handicapped accessibility, take the elevator from the main lobby to the first floor and follow signs to the Conference Center.

Gifford, Council on Aging Offering Free Caregiver Classes, Support

caregiver supportRANDOLPH – There are an estimated 64,000 home caregivers in Vermont – those who care for a loved one or friend at home rather than relying on a home health agency or nursing home.

Gifford Medical Center’s Blueprint Care Coordination Team is collaborating with the Central Vermont Council on Aging to offer advice and peer support to home caregivers who often selflessly work long, stressful hours.

Over the coming months, Gifford will offer a one-night course called “5 Minutes for Yourself.” The class will be led by Samantha Medved, Gifford’s Blueprint behavioral health clinician and a licensed social worker.

“The class is really designed to identify why caregivers need to take five minutes for themselves, and we’ll also talk about how to find that time during the day.”

The class will be offered on Aug. 20 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Gifford in Randolph and from 5:30-7 p.m. on the following days and locations: on Aug. 23 at the Chelsea Health Center, on Aug. 28 at the Bethel Health Center, on Sept. 4 at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin, and on Sept. 13 at Gifford.

Participants need only take one of the classes, which will cover identifying stress in the caregiver role, how taking time for oneself can improve the caregiver’s ability to provide care, breathing techniques, how to find that “me time” and what activities to do during that time.

The class will be followed up by a six-week course from Jeanne Kern of the Central Vermont Council on Aging called “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” and running Wednesdays, Sept. 5-Oct. 10 from 3-5 p.m. at the Council on Aging at 59 N. Main St., Suite 200, in Barre.

The six-week workshop is also anticipated to be offered in Randolph in the fall with Kern and Brooks Chapin, a nurse and Gifford’s director of senior services.

caregiver supportThe educational workshop is designed to help family caregivers take care of themselves while caring for a relative or friend. Participants will learn ways to reduce stress; communicate effectively; reduce guilt, anger and depression; set goals; and problem solve.

And finally, Gifford is planning ongoing, community-based support groups for caregivers beginning in September. The participant-run groups will be offered based on participants’ interest and availability.

The goal of all of the programs is to support caregivers and the vital, challenging role they play.

“Caregivers typically are caring for people they really love and are allowing those people to continue to live in their homes, with their families and in their communities.

Simultaneously, it’s a very hard and under-recognized role,” Medved said. “What we know is healthier caregivers provide healthier care, so we want to make sure we assist caregivers in being as healthy and happy as possible.”

To register for any of the upcoming “5 Minutes for Yourself” classes or to express interest in joining a support group, call Gifford’s Blueprint office at 728-7100, ext. 6. The class is free and light refreshments will be served.

To sign up for “Powerful Tools for Caregivers,” call Kern at the Council on Aging at (802) 476-2671. A $20 donation is suggested to help cover the cost of the course book that participants receive.

Participants need not be full-time caregivers. Anyone who helps support a loved one, such as through decision-making, providing transportation, or serving as a primary family support person is welcome.

Gifford also holds a monthly support group for those with chronic illnesses called the Chronic HealthShare Consortium. These free meetings continue on the second Wednesday of each month from 3-4 p.m.