“My mom dying in a hospital was not the best, so that’s when I became interested in hospice,” says Karen Formont, a volunteer for Golf-A-Thon, VNA & Hospice Foundation’s annual fundraising event. During the monthly Golf-A-Thon meetings, Karen learned about the two types of hospice care that VNA offers: home hospice and in-patient hospice at VNA Hospice House, a state-of-the art facility in Vero Beach for end-of-life care. She was impressed by VNA’s comprehensive approach to hospice, and when her aunt became sick, advised her cousin to contact the non-profit. “My cousin’s first opinion was, ‘Oh hospice, that’s dreary. You’re just kind of sent there to die,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, you know nothing about hospice.’”
Fortunately, Karen’s cousin took her advice, and her mom spent her final days comfortably in VNA Hospice House. “Afterward, my cousin was just crying on the phone with me (saying) ‘thank you so much, what a wonderful way for everyone to say goodbye to her.’ I think the problem with hospice is people don’t know what they don’t know,” says Karen.
During Karen’s aunt’s stay in Hospice House, her care included music therapy, a special VNA Hospice program that Karen said her late aunt and extended family thoroughly appreciated. Another VNA service Karen was educated about was advance care planning, something she had personal experience with before her mom and dad passed away. “It’s easier for the person making the decisions about themselves than it is for the family, and I think that’s another thing they’re very helpful with here at VNA, telling you the steps to take,” she says.
Witnessing her aunt’s experience on hospice made Karen appreciate the benefits of going on it sooner rather than later. “I wish that people would contact this organization before the last few moments of someone’s death and realize they can get the support both before and after the loved one’s death,” she says.
Karen’s recent familial experience with hospice has also inspired her to volunteer even more. “I want to start sitting with people (on hospice) that have no one to sit with them because I just think it’s very important to have someone in the room,” she says. “Everybody deals with death. Whether it’s a spouse, a parent or a child, and that’s why I feel really passionate about it.”
To learn more about VNA services or becoming a VNA volunteer, please visit www.vnatc.com.