We’re all born, and we all die.
We celebrate the day of our birth each year, even though we don’t remember our birth. However, death is something we all know will happen, and many people are alert and oriented right until the moment life ends. How we leave the world is at least as important as how we come into it—right?
I started my company, Balanced Home Care, in 2009 and grew it to 200 employees pre-pandemic. We provide qualified caregivers to people in independent senior living facilities and private homes.
After running my core business for 11 years, I developed a great deal of admiration and respect for hospice care. Everyone I spoke with about hospice shared positive experiences. One hospice nurse told me about a patient she cared for who loved fishing. She decided that no matter what it took, she was going to help him go fishing one more time—and she did. She now leads the Lily Hospice team.
You see, though not everyone realizes it, hospice care is about body, mind and spirit. The mission is to keep people physically comfortable but also tend to their mental and spiritual needs, sometimes helping to find resolution to things that might otherwise be left unresolved.
I’m passionate about hospice and have been ever since my grandmother, Lilian, passed away with advanced Alzheimer’s. At her life’s end, she lived with my parents and had hospice care. To honor her, I named the hospice I opened for her: Lily Hospice.
However, if I hadn’t joined EO, I wouldn’t have opened a hospice—my dream would be unrealized.
How EO helped me achieve my dream
EO and my Forum provided me with the support and knowledge to tackle the incredible challenge of opening a hospice organization. Through EO, I’ve been exposed to things I wouldn’t haven’t otherwise been exposed to that empowered me to take this leap.
For example, in my companies, we run the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). Hiring an integrator to run my business changed my life. It opened space for me to pursue my passion of starting a hospice. I wouldn’t have heard about EOS without EO.
I also wouldn’t have had the confidence, knowledge or support to take on this challenge. It’s very expensive and a bit scary to start a hospice because it’s a highly clinical operation. Hospice is heavily regulated. It requires third-party audits and certification by Medicare, along with a great deal of supervision because the physicians on staff must access powerful narcotics.
I’m not a clinician, and don’t pretend to be one. I had the passion for hospice but not the operational abilities or knowledge to run one. Without my Forum, and without my incredible administrator, Daphene, I never would’ve started Lily Hospice.
Dispelling 5 myths about hospice care
In my experience, hospice is often a misunderstood benefit. Here are five things most people don’t know about hospice care:
1. Generally speaking, people on hospice live longer.
There’s a misguided concept that hospice care basically means a patient is giving up, will be doped up with meds, and will lie in bed until death comes.
However, in reality, sometimes when patients undergo heavy-duty medical interventions for the purpose of lengthening life—they can actually shorten life.
For example, if a patient has very advanced lung cancer and can’t be cured, hospice helps that person and their family focus on the quality of life versus quantity of life without the “curative” medical interventions that can weaken a person and hasten death.
In our hospice, our mission is to honor life by providing individualized, extraordinary care that is encompassed with comfort and compassion; we promote dignity and respect for each person and family member we connect with.
By prioritizing quality over quantity, you can give your loved ones a very positive experience in the last months of life.
2. The goal of hospice is to keep patients comfortable from a physical, spiritual and emotional standpoint
Hospice focuses on excellence of care and collaboration with the entire spectrum of care—mind, body and spirit. There are nurse visits, bath visits, spiritual care visits, and social work visits.
Lily Hospice is founded on the premise that hospice care goes beyond the clinical to include nurturing your loved one’s passions and purpose to the very end. We want to make sure that every person’s last chapter gets written fully, so that their story is complete before it comes to a close.
Great care is taken when ushering someone into the world, and great care should be taken when they leave. After all, there’s no second chance to get it right.
3. You can cancel hospice service at any time.
With hospice, you elect the benefit—but did you know you can also revoke it with no penalty? The only qualifier for hospice care is a prognosis (not diagnosis) that the patient has six months or less to live.
Most people tell us, “I wish we’d called for hospice sooner.” It’s not giving up; it’s not end-of-life. You can receive all of the (many!) hospice services, then one day, if you change your mind, you can end hospice services to seek curative treatment. It’s no problem at all—and it’s well within a patient’s rights.
4. With few exceptions, hospice is completely free to patients.
In the US, Medicare covers the benefit at 100% and most commercial insurances cover it almost all up to 100%. With hospice, there’s rarely an out-of-pocket fee, and that includes medications, durable medical equipment, a hospital bed and many other benefits—it’s all covered.
5. Hospice does as much for the family as it does for the patient.
Hospice comprises an extensive, comprehensive list of services for you and your loved one, including medical equipment, end-of-life planning, pain management and grief counseling. Hospice care includes bereavement services for the family of the patient for up to a year after your loved one passes away. It’s not just about the patient. We have a social worker and a spiritual coordinator to help the patient and the patient’s family. Hospice covers everything.
Lily Hospice is piloting the Journey Program, a specialized virtual reality program to reduce social isolation through the power of shared experience. Patients and families are able to share joyful moments they would otherwise miss—such as attending a family wedding or other milestone event through virtual reality. Patients can even visit a dream destination, such as a virtual gondola ride in Venice, Italy. That’s the kind of care I believe people should enjoy in their final weeks of life.
Now maybe you can see why I’m passionate about hospice. It’s more than terminal illness care. It’s people care—during an incredibly emotional and intense time in a family’s life. We often develop very close relationships very quickly. It’s the most rewarding and difficult work I can imagine; I’m grateful to be the founder of Lily Hospice.