Hospice Volunteers Honored for Outstanding Service

Volunteer Award honorees (from R to L) Christopher Carswell, Bonnie Hunt, Kay Aaker, and Timothy Lee with NHPCO leadership, Rex Allen, Sandra Shuster, and Linda Rock.
Volunteer Award honorees (from R to L) Christopher Carswell, Bonnie Hunt, Kay Aaker, and Timothy Lee with NHPCO leadership, Rex Allen, Sandra Shuster, and Linda Rock.

The Annual Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Award winners were announced this week at the Clinical Team Conference in Grapevine, TX. This year’s recipients of the Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Awards were:

Patient and Family Service Award:
Kay Aaker
Hospice of the East Bay, Pleasant Hill, California.

As a volunteer with 31 years of service, Kay Aaker has generously supported patients in every possible capacity at the end of their lives. In 2014, Kay devoted 1,550 hours as a patient support, vigil and administrative volunteer. Her greatest impact though is not in numbers but in how she has touched the hearts of the many patients with whom she has sat quietly at the bedside, held a hand, or whispered that she was there for them.

Specialized Service Award:
Bonnie Hunt
Hospice of Lubbock, Lubbock, Texas.

Instilled with a natural sense of “doing for others,” Lubbock native Bonnie Hunt attended Hospice of Lubbock’s first volunteer class in 1987. She set out to find a unique way to support those receiving hospice care and began creating festive care baskets – filled with homemade cookies, treats and decorations – to be delivered to hospice families. Bonnie has donated over 5,040 care baskets throughout the past 28 years. She has also sewn 213 teddy bears made from patient’s clothing as part of the hospice’s Memory Bear program.

Organizational Support Award:
Timothy Lee
Penn Wissahickon Hospice, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

With help from the local community and support from Penn hospice, Timothy took part in the organization of an interdisciplinary revitalization of an underutilized children’s room at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse in Philadelphia. The project brought together over 85 volunteers from schools and organizations across Philadelphia to create a safe place and creative space for children whose families were receiving hospice care.

Young Leader Award:
Christopher Carswell
Hospice of the Golden Isles, Brunswick, Georgia.

At just 16 years old and despite his own medical challenges, Christopher lives by setting a powerful, yet simple example – he puts others first. Along with his service dog, Bronx, he has volunteered at Hospice of the Golden Isles for almost two years bringing comfort and friendship to hospice patients. He champions multiple community outreach projects and is an inspiration to those he encounters, while facing chronic illness.


Please like and share this post to give a virtual round of applause for these dedicated hospice volunteers!

Advocacy Intensive Lauded for Its Methods and Successes

HAN is honored to be featured in a recent article by Connectivity from CQ/RollCall where they spoke to Director of Advocacy Tony Kudner about how our Advocacy Intensive has evolved, and what kind of outreach works best for our members to get their legislators’ attention:

Their compassionate story-telling approach resulted in a tangible policy win in 2014 when lawmakers directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to halt implementation of a Medicare Part D policy that resulted in dying patients unable to get necessary medications under their Part D benefit.

HAN is thrilled that our event has not only become so popular with our advocates, but is getting recognized by outside organizations for its effectiveness. Have you attended our Advocacy Intensive in the past? Do you have any thoughts or suggestions for things you’d like to see us keep or change for the next one? Let us know in the comments!

Attendees from the July 2015 Advocacy Intensive meet with a Congressional Staff Member.

Clinical Team Conference a Rousing Success!

HAN’s VP of Public Policy Sharon Pearce and Director of Advocacy Tony Kudner were in attendance at NHPCO’s Clinical Team Conference in Grapevine, TX this week. They were available for questions at the NHPCO booth, and were busy recruiting advocates for our next Advocacy Intensive this July!


I’ve been following the #CTC15 hashtag (and so should you!) and people seem to be having a great time!



Are you at the Clinical Team Conference? Share your experience with us in the comments!  

Are Congressmen following Constituents on Social Media?!

An important report was just released by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) detailing how Members of Congress use Social Media. #SocialCongress2015 surveyed over 100 Congressional staffers across party and chamber lines. The results are fascinating:cmf-social-congress-2015-cover

  1. Senators and Representatives are more inclined to use social media than they were in the past. Most of the respondents (84%) said Members of Congress have become more inclined to use social media while only 1% said their bosses had become less inclined to use it.
  2. Staff generally feel social media have improved relationships between constituents and Congress. More than three-quarters (76%) of the respondents “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement “social media enabled us to have more meaningful interactions with constituents,” and nearly as many (70%) agreed that “social media have made Members/Senators more accountable to constituents.”
  3. Thirty or fewer similar comments on a social media post are enough to get an office’s attention, but they need to be posted quickly or they may not be seen. About one-third (35%) of the respondents said it takes fewer than 10 similar comments for their offices to pay attention, and nearly half (45%) said their offices will pay attention to between 10 and 30 similar comments. However, the more time that passes after an office posts on social media, the less likely it will be that staff will review the response.
  4. Social media posts by constituents can influence undecided Senators and Representatives, but staff generally do not feel social media posts provide enough information to identify constituents. Many respondents said constituent input via social media would have “some” influence on their boss if he/she had not arrived at a firm decision on an issue, but staff also indicated that they have a hard time identifying when social media posts are from constituents. Just over one-third (36%) of the respondents indicated they “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement, “Most of the social media posts to our platforms provide us enough information and context to determine if the post is from a constituent.”

So what does that mean for your use of social media for Hospice Advocacy?

  1. It works!
  2. We need more than just a few people posting
  3. Posts must be done timely
  4. Always include identifying information, like a town or state of residence, so that they know you are a constituent.

HAN is in the process of starting up a Social Media Response Team of active social media advocates who will commit to responding and sharing posts, posting pictures, and tweeting on various topics when requested. Are you interested in getting more information about this team? Send me an email and I will keep you informed as we proceed!

Moments of Life Campaign Dispels Hospice Myths

NHPCO’s Moments of Life campaign got a nice write-up in the Huffington Post this week, courtesy of hospice physician Karen M. Wyatt, MD. If you are unfamiliar with this campaign, Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice seeks to record and distribute personal stories of patients and families receiving the benefits of hospice, with the goal of dispelling myths and misconceptions about hospice and end-of-life care. The project began last May, and has already hit over a million views.


From Dr. Wyatt’s article:

Here are five of the messages conveyed by the Moments of Life campaign that shatter the most common misconceptions about hospice care:

1. Hospice patients enjoy life.

One of the most common fears about hospice care is that it is sad and depressing for the patient and loved ones. But the Moments of Life videos show patients laughing, praying, hugging, traveling, picnicking, and even fishing with their loved ones as they make the most of each moment of life available to them. Hospice care, by properly managing symptoms, helps patients stay comfortable and alert so that they can spend quality moments with the ones they love.

2. Hospice patients are filled with hope.

Some of those not familiar with hospice have a perception that choosing hospice care equates with “giving up hope.” In fact, physicians often cite this as a reason for not mentioning hospice to their patients. However, the patients depicted in the Moments of Life videos show an entirely different point of view: they find hope in the fact that they are able to stay in their own homes, be surrounded by loved ones, remain active as long as possible, and have their symptoms under control.

3. Hospice patients live longer.

Another common misperception is that patients who opt for hospice care will die sooner than those who continue treatment. However, a NHPCO study has shown that patients who receive hospice care actually live an average of 29 days longer than those with a similar diagnosis who do not choose hospice. The Moments of Life campaign includes the stories of patients who have lived beyond their medical prognosis and have enjoyed quality of life during those days.

4. Hospice provides excellent team-based medical care.

One misconception is that choosing hospice means going without medical treatment. In fact hospice and palliative care patients continue to receive high quality care from an entire team of specialized providers, including doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, aides, therapists, and volunteers. The Moments of Life videos show this top-level care being provided to hospice patients in their homes with skill, compassion, and concern.

5. Hospice is for everyone.

According to Anita Brikman, Senior VP of Strategic Communication at the NHPCO, cultural barriers to hospice care remain an ongoing issue in the U.S. The Moments of Life campaign addresses these barriers by including patients of diverse ethnicity, age, diagnosis, geographic location, and cultural background. The campaign demonstrates that hospice care is not only available to everyone at the end-of-life but is sensitive to the individual needs and concerns of all patients.


In addition to breaking down these common misperceptions about hospice care through video vignettes, the campaign website at MomentsofLife.org contains a wealth of information for patients and providers. There are tools for finding a hospice, determining treatment options for any stage of a serious illness, and a gallery in which to share photos and stories of other meaningful moments that are still possible near the end-of-life.”

Do you know someone who could benefit from these resources? Do you have a patient who wants to tell their story to the Moments of Life team? Let us know by emailing the Moments of Life team.