Hospice Patients and Their Pets--End of Life in a Facility

Some people are unaware of the fact that hospice care can occur inside the walls of a nursing home or other facility, like a hospice home or in-patient hospice unit. While we often think of hospice as providing the opportunity for patients to die in their own homes, sometimes this just isn't possible. For example, a patient may stay at home for the initial part of their hospice care, but have no family or resources for a caregiver to care for them when they become too weak to shower or take care of other personal needs. For safety reasons, the patient is moved into a facility for their end of life journey. What happens to their beloved pets when this occurs? Well, that depends. One hospice in Iowa who is part of our Pet Peace of Mind network helped a patient find homes for her pets with hospice volunteers and community members. The patient had the opportunity to meet each adoptive family and to see how much care and love her pets would have after she was gone. These wonderful people even brought the pets up to the nursing home to visit the patient during her time there, including a final visit the day she died. This patient died knowing that her pets were safe and loved.
One of the most important things you can do for a hospice patient is to offer to provide a loving home for their pet. Many times, hospice staff and hospice volunteers are the ones who witness the special bond between a patient and pet and understand how important it is for the patient to be able to leave them in the care of someone they trust. Unfortunately, there are only so many homes with hospice staff and volunteers. They need people willing to step up from the surrounding community to help, people who understand the pet's need to grieve and need for time to adjust to a new home. Would you consider becoming a forever home for a hospice patient's pet?