Susan E. Mazer, Ph.D. Blog

Thoughts and ideas on healthcare

Hi, and welcome to my blog! I'm Susan E. Mazer -- a knowledge expert and thought leader on how the environment of care impacts the patient experience. Topics I write about include safety, satisfaction, hospital noise, nursing, care at the bedside, and much more. Subscribe below to get email notices so you won't miss any great content.

Transforming an ICU Bed Into a Hospice Bed

August 15, 2014

1A patient in the ICU is pulled off of life-support.  The family is with him to support him while he is awaiting his last breath.

What does this ICU patient room now look and feel like to the family?  Is it possible to shift the environment to better respect this sacred time? What would be needed to do this?

How about a hospice kit that could be given to the family?  One with these things:

  • A blanket that is not white, not hospital generic. But, warm, and loving.  Maybe a blanket that is patterned like clouds or nature at its best.
  • A small incandescent lamp so that the overhead light can be turned off, reducing glare and shifting the focus on the patient.

What else?  Involve the family so that they move past helplessness to helpfulness. Ask them to bring in something that has meaning for the patient — a hat, stuffed animal, picture and put it on the bed next to the patient.

Many of our hospital clients turn on the The C.A.R.E. Channel to provide a calm environment and mask other sounds.

The swaddling of a dying person is as loving as the swaddling of an infant.  And, the blanket that helps that person and his/her family transition into a different time and place becomes symbolic of those moments.

If the family does not want the blanket after their loved one passes, then the blanket, which has shown its capacity to hold the dying process, is cleaned, wrapped, and given to someone else.

The hospital foundation, which provides kits for infants that die all too soon, as well as for infants that go home, could fund the hospice kit.

Without question, preparing for the end of a life like this turns the ICU into a place of recovery that is palliative — a hospice.

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