Good questions
Great answers

How is VHOCC different from other hospices?
Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County is a local, independent nonprofit organization, serving the population of Clallam County at no charge. VHOCC does not bill any insurance company or government agency for services.

When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made, and who should decide?
Hospice can be discussed at any time during a life-limiting illness along with all other care options. The decision should be made when all treatment of the illness has ended. However, the sooner a patient enters a hospice program, the more opportunity there is to address not only medical needs, but emotional or spiritual needs as well. By law, the decision to enter a hospice program belongs to the patient.

How is a person admitted to VHOCC?
Following a physician referral, a VHOCC nurse performs an assessment to determine if the patient needs hospice or terminal care.

Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?
Patients and families should discuss hospice care with their physician at any time. It may also be valuable to seek input from other healthcare professionals, clergy, or friends.

What if our physician doesn’t know about hospice?
Most physicians know about hospice, and those in our community are familiar with VHOCC. Physicians seeking more information can contact us at (360) 452-1511.

Can a patient living in a nursing home or convalescent home become a hospice patient?
Yes. VHOCC will coordinate care with other providers to best serve the patient’s needs, wherever they live.

What specific assistance does hospice provide patients?
Most hospice patients are cared for by a team of doctors, nurses and volunteers. VHOCC does not have a medical doctor on staff, but encourages patients to continue care with their doctor. We provide nursing care, respite volunteers, chaplain volunteers, social worker volunteers, and specialized services (such as haircuts and massages, pet therapy, and music therapy). We refer and coordinate services with community resources for social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy and therapists. In addition, hospice provides supplies, equipment, and additional helpers in the home as appropriate.

Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner? Does it shorten life?
Hospice neither speeds up nor slows down the dying process. Hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge while attending to the needs of living. The goal is to enhance remaining days through various means, including pain management.

What if the patient gets better?
Sometimes patients experience remarkable improvement in their condition and are no longer “terminal.” They may be discharged and re-admitted when their condition changes again.

How does hospice “manage” pain?
Hospice nurses and doctors use medications and devices to relieve pain and other symptoms. VHOCC nurses obtain physician’s orders for pain medications or changes in dosage.

VHOCC believes emotional and spiritual pains require as much attention as physical pain, so we address these as well. Anticipatory grief support volunteers and chaplain volunteers, including clergy, are available to assist family members as well as patients.

Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
VHOCC provides continuing contact and support for family and friends for at least one year following the death of a loved one. We also sponsor individual bereavement sessions and grief support groups to anyone in the community who has experienced the death of a family member, friend, or loved one.

Is Hospice a place where people go?
Not necessarily. A few hospices in the country have a location where patients spend the end of their life, but many, including VHOCC, do not.

Is there a minimum age to enter hospice?
While the majority of patients are older, patients of all ages, including children, are welcome to use VHOCC services.

Is VHOCC affiliated with a particular faith?
VHOCC welcomes anyone regardless of their beliefs. No religious affiliation is required.

Can you borrow anything from VHOCC?
While VHOCC has a large store of durable medical equipment, some specialty items are reserved for patients.

Do you have to work with patients if you volunteer with VHOCC? 
There are many different volunteer opportunities such as reception, clerical work, equipment maintenance, delivery and pick-up, donor recognition, public speaking, grant writing, participation on board committees, and grief support.

Is a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order mandatory to enroll into VHOCC? 
While many patients, in consultation with their physician, choose the DNR order, this is not required.

Is there any hope in hospice?
The hospice philosophy emphasizes the benefits of defining and achieving personal goals and living as fully as possible. Often patients and families experience an improved sense of well-being and comfort through hospice care. This may happen because of improved pain and other symptom management, as well as the emotional and spiritual support provided by VHOCC nurses and volunteers.

What is Volunteer Hospice position in regard to Washington State “Death With Dignity” law?
Washington State's Death with Dignity is available to all individuals who meet the following criteria: terminally ill (with a 6-month diagnosis), over the age of 18, a resident of the State, fully mentally competent and have the support of 2 physicians. In accordance with current Washington State law, Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County staff or volunteers will not be present at the time of planned deaths but will fully support the decision made by a client to use Death with Dignity. Further information can be found at: