Hospice tree lighting celebrates care giving
HOSPICE CHAPLAIN KATHY SPEAS shares a laugh with hospice patient Jane Hamilton in Golden Living Center at London House.
The annual lighting of the Hospice By The Bay Tree in the Plaza is not just to honor loved ones who have passed on. It’s also a symbol of the struggle of those who are at the end-of-life stage as well as those who care for them.
Whether there are many family members sharing last days, weeks or months with the patient in their home, or whether the person enters a facility without having family and friends, the hospice team provides enrichment to all involved in the patient’s care.
Jane Hamilton, 80, now lives under hospice care in Golden Living Center at London House on Second Street West. She suffered a debilitating stroke two-and-a-half years ago that makes verbal communication difficult.
When she first came to Golden, Hamilton was very afraid. Now, (through an interpreter) Jane said she is no longer fearful.
When asked what she likes about her “home” she said, “(The caregivers) do what they say they will, (so I) trust them.”
She added, “They’re nice people and make me comfortable.”
Hamilton even attends the regular post-conference meetings with rest home and hospice staff where she said “(I) give my opinions.”
She is cared for by Golden’s licensed nurse and nursing assistants and a social worker, as well as the hospice team of registered and licensed vocational nurses, a home health aid and Hospice Chaplain Kathy Speas who offers spiritual transition. There’s also Golden’s fluffy little poodle-mix, therapy dog Mia, who visits patients four days a week.
“I love Mia,” Hamilton said with a big smile.
Speas, who travels to the numerous skilled nursing and residential care homes(as well as private homes) in the Valley, emphasizes the importance of creating a “family feeling” among hospice patients who have no relatives. “We have a lot of them who have no family and no one they can talk to. They can’t tell their stories, so the facility is their family.”
Golden Center’s Director of Nursing Dori Teicheira said the presence of hospice gives patients like Jane Hamilton “more one-on-one attention at the bedside.”
Hamilton’s daughters visit whenever they can. Cindy Johnston, of Sonoma, visits her mother about three days a week.
She said the family grappled with placing her in a rest home. But she is coming to terms with reality. “The biggest issue now is my Mom’s here and she’s going to die. But they’re helping her live in dignity and with quality.”
And a new life has come into the world for the family. Jane Hamilton’s first great-grandchild was born Nov. 12, in Boston, Mass. In honor of her great-grandmother, the baby girl is named Ainsley Jane Galletta.
Speas said the birth of the baby adds a new dimension to the Golden facility and hospice teams, “We all feel like we’re part of Jane’s family … and we all get to be god mothers!”
This year’s 27th annual Hospice By The Bay Lights of Remembrance ceremony will recognize the work of skilled nursing homes and residential care homes as well as private home care.
It takes place on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 6 p.m. under the hospice tree in the southwest corner of the Plaza. All ages are welcome.
To sponsor a light in honor or memory of a loved one or for more information about Hospice By The Bay, call 415-927-2273 or visit hbtb.org.