Hospice Online Consultation Service: The Light that Provides Answers for Your Questions

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, Featured, and People & Places.

When patients’ conditions worsen and they come to the end of life, patients and families may panic, be at a loss on the future, and persist with unresolved grief. To help and assist them through the healing process, the Hospice Foundation of Taiwan (“the Foundation”) has launched the Hospice Online Consultation Service (“HOCS”), which offers high-quality online consultations to meet different groups’ needs.

With the continuous advocacy and promotion of hospice care, the public now recognizes the positive influence that hospice care brings to terminal patients. Yet, when patients and families face the end of life, naturally, they are still easily overwhelmed by anxiety, grief, fear, and pressure, which could bring gloom and dark clouds of depression on them.

The Hospice Foundation of Taiwan has seen these unspoken needs, and therefore, has launched the Hospice Online Consultation Service in May 2022 to provide services that fulfill the participants’ needs. These services include the Concept Group, Care Skills Group, and Psychological Support Group. Additionally, the Foundation invites experienced hospice experts to offer these online consultations.

Love Motivated with Expertise Involved

As one of the leading organizations that advocates hospice care in Taiwan, the Hospice Foundation of Taiwan desires to connect with the public and become a platform for people to know more about hospice care and resolve any doubts they may still have. Thus, not only is the Foundation setting up a toll-free telephone hotline (0800-008-520), but is also welcoming people to contact them through email, social media, and the Line app. While that has helped greatly, many years of experience interacting with the public has brought awareness that some people still struggle with profound needs and would benefit from increased time and assistance from specialists who can offer them adequate support.

These thoughts have been quickly endorsed by Miss Ching-Ping Liu, the Deputy Director of MacKay Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, and Miss Hui-Fang Tsai, the Social Worker and Psychologist of Tri-Services General Hospital; both of whom have contributed much to hospice care for over 20 years. No matter whether clinical, curriculum, policy, or advocacy aspects, they are rich with experience. When they first heard Ms. Yi-Yin Lin, the CEO of Hospice Foundation of Taiwan, share her ideas, Miss Liu and Miss Tsai had no doubt and immediately joined this Hospice Online Consultation Service, which officially launched in May 2022.

Yi-Yin Lin further explains the design of the consultation service, which is categorized into three groups to better meet different needs. First, the Concept Group provides for people who want to have a preliminary concept and understanding of hospice care. Second, the Care Skills Group provides consultation on improving patient care skills. Lastly, the Psychological Support Group assists caregivers who may be exhausted from providing care or overwhelmed with sadness.

“Currently, the consultation services are open to caregivers, patients, and those who have hospice care needs because they are the main group of people who suffers most,” says Yi-Yin Lin. To help more needy people, she notes that the Foundation also cooperates with the Taiwan Association of Family Caregivers to spread this information as thoroughly as possible.

Confidential Consultations Allow for Safe Environments to Express Pain

The Hospice Online Consultation Service is provided once a month, two hours at a time. The number of participants for each group varies due to its intended purpose. Yi-Yin Lin emphasizes that there is no limitation for the Concept Group, but there is a maximum limit of six participants for each of the Care Skills Group and the Psychological Support Group. The idea to keep the groups small is to ensure that each participant can be well attended to.

In addition, using the Internet overcomes the challenge of location and distance; as such, it also protects people’s privacy. According to Yi-Yin Lin, “If the participant is uncomfortable showing their face and identity to others, they have the option to switch off their camera. The Foundation is intentional to design a private and safe environment, and has each participant sign a confidential agreement so as not to disclose others’ personal information.”

Miss Ching-Ping Liu, who heads the Care Skills Group, says that she is willing to give selflessly because she has been blessed with her professional background in hospice care, especially when she had to look after her own parents in the past. As one of the front-line health workers, she has seen how the hospice care team held family meetings for patients to build consensus, to discuss life-and-death issues, and to agree on the path of a good death. She ponders, “I always wonder, those caregivers who don’t have these resources to support them, how difficult it must be for them to discuss life and death issues, and to express their emotion and pain without professional guidance and advice!”

Meanwhile, Miss Tsai, the psychologist, has observed another need hidden in the COVID-19 pandemic during her recent consultations. She says, “Although some clients were prepared for the departure of their relatives, the restrictions on visiting patients during the pandemic made it impossible for them to stay at the hospital so that they couldn’t properly say goodbye to them in the final moment of life.”

Miss Tsai thinks the inability to stay by one’s side can bring an irreparable void of loss, which can be filled with regret and guilt. These emotions are even harder to be relieved during the pandemic due to the prevention measures that restrict visits or avoid gatherings. “We call it deprived grief. This is the feeling of deprivation that makes people unable to produce loss or express their grief to others, which essentially means they have lost the opportunity to be cared for.”

Although the Hospice Online Consultation Service is still in its infancy, with a limited number of participants who can join the consultation at the same time; nevertheless, the Foundation and the two experts are optimistic and look forward to a bright future. More specialists are expected to join this online initiative and provide further professional services to offer hope to the needy.

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This information was provided by Hospice Foundation Taiwan.

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