Programmes & Services
All of the services offered by Friends of Hospice are unique to a hospice setting and all programmes are provided free of charge to participants. It is our aim for each and every person we serve, particularly those who are at end of life, to live their days in comfort and with dignity. We continuously review our service delivery to ensure that we are operating at best practices.
Programs and support services provided by Friends of Hospice include:
On Mondays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., we provide a therapeutic adult day programme at Agape House designed for people living with a life-threatening illness who are well enough to return home after symptom control and rehabilitation. Residents of Agape House are also welcome if they are able to participate.
The programme provides physical and psychosocial support through various therapies and recreational activities in a safe, nurturing and non-judgmental environment. The programme also offers access to care and assessment and provides some respite to patients’ families.
From time to time, we organize outings for our Day Hospice group to sites across our community, for example the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, and Masterworks Museum, and recently Fairmont Hamilton Princess so our participants could see the festive holiday decorations. In collaboration with other community partners, our volunteers provide transportation and accompany our groups, and work with other charities to provide entry free of charge.
Our chefs - one full-time and a part-time weekend chef - take great pride in cooking delicious home-cooked meals as well as baking and preparing desserts. Meals are tailored specifically to the needs of patients of Agape House, and served home-style using china and flatware donated by the community. Our chefs prepare patients’ favourite meals, which over time has ranged from lobster dinner, ackee and salt fish, milkshakes, smoothies, and soups using fresh farm ingredients, or vegan pasta dishes!
A critical service of Friends of Hospice, working with our Community Partners, we are ever mindful of the difficult discussions and decisions that families and loved ones of our Agape House patients are faced with. By providing mental and emotional support for residents, families and our volunteers, we aim to facilitate these discussions, assisting with necessary end of life plans to help soften the impact of personal loss to family and friends left behind and help them along their grief journey.
We provide grief support to patients' next of kin for 12 months following the death of one of our Agape House patients, and share helpful tips and information about the grief process on a monthly basis and a sympathy card is sent to each family as well. In collaboration with P.A.L.S., we host a complimentary drop-in grief support group that is held monthly on the second Tuesday of the month from 12 p.m. until 1 p.m. at Solstice Bermuda on Pitts Bay Road. The group is co-facilitated by Friends of Hospice Programme Manager Reilly Smith and P.A.L.S. social worker Richard Smith.
We work with The Association of Diagnostic & Psychological Services, Solstice Bermuda, Thrive Wellness Connections, and Sea Garden Special Needs Consultancy to provide mental health support for patients of Agape House, participants of Day Hospice, and their loved ones both during their time at Agape House and after the death of their loved one. Our bereavement support services are extended to our volunteers as well as we recognize the importance of self-care.
Friends and Family Support Services is held two evenings a week on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5.30 p.m. until 7.00 p.m. at Agape House. Anyone whose loved one has been recently diagnosed with a serious illness can drop in to receive support and ask questions in a supportive environment that will help them to come to terms with the illness. Therapist and social worker Dr. Wendy Young, D.Phil., MSW, who has experience in one-on-one work with individuals as well as groups, leads this service.
Together with P.A.L.S., we provide specialist training for volunteers in Companioning the Dying. This is a 7-week curriculum-based course where participants are first screened for suitability to participate. Successful participants must sign a statement of commitment that they will volunteer one hour per week to companion a person who is actively dying, either at Agape House or at the bedside of the patient. The course prepares participants in conversation techniques, companionship, being present and empathetic, and overall assistance in the final days of one’s life. Companions can play a critical role in the care provided to the patient’s and their loved ones.
We have also partnered with Bermuda Hospitals Board and P.A.L.S. to offer the “Difficult Conversations” programme which is an established practice in hospices across the UK. Difficult Conversations is a non-profit organization whose aim is to initiate and improve compassionate conversations between health professionals and their patients, revolving around end of life care. This helps patients and families make better choices about where and how their care should be delivered, thereby improving communication for patients and families in these difficult times.
Three Bermuda-based physicians, Dr. Sharon Alikhani (P.A.L.S. Medical Director), Dr. David Harries (Consultant Geriatrician), and Bermuda Hospitals Board Consultant Anaesthetist Dr. Elaine Campbell, are trained as trainers, and have been recertified in the UK, and over 100 professionals have received this training to date. Workshops are offered three to four times each year, each one training a maximum of 16 people. In 2018, 46 health professionals in Bermuda completed the training.
Friends of Hospice offers a variety of support therapies facilitated by professionally certified individuals and volunteers, and in conjunction with Agape House patients’ and Day Hospice participants’ medical treatment plans. Complementary therapy services are diagnostic and therapeutic disciplines that are used together with conventional medicine. Some of these therapies are provided on a scheduled basis, and others are upon request.
There are many mind-body practices, as well as conventional approaches, that can help to manage stress and depression during and after treatment. In addition to psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy some common mind-body practices to manage stress and mood include:
- Meditation. Meditation is a way for a person to learn to focus attention to calm the mind and relax the body. It decreases chronic pain and improves mood and other aspects of a person’s quality of life. There are many different types of meditation, such as focused meditation, open awareness/mindfulness, and compassion or loving-kindness meditation. Meditation can be self-taught or guided by others.
- Pet therapy. Pet therapy is defined as a guided interaction between a specially trained animal and an individual or group, facilitated by the animal’s handler. Pet therapy interactions are used to help improve patients’ mental, social, emotional, and physical functions. Petting an animal is believed to cause the release of endorphins (feel-good neurotransmitters) which can have an extremely positive impact on patients dealing with depressive disorders. Patients also have an opportunity to develop their nurturing skills and are encouraged to develop a sense of empathy with the animal.
- Beauty Therapy. Trained therapists can provide manicures, pedicures, facials and hairstyling. It can help with a patient’s overall well-being. A podiatrist is also available for specific foot care.
- Art Therapy. Art therapy uses creative expression to promote emotional, mental and physical well-being. It is grounded in the belief that the creative process of art making is inherently healing and serves as an outlet for self-expression and meaning. Art therapy in health care integrates artistic expression into the healing process, a practice that complements standard cancer treatment.
- Massage Therapy. Research shows that massage can reduce pain, tension, and stress. It may also help with post-surgery symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and fatigue.
Benefits of Complementary Therapy:
- Reduces stress and increases relaxation
- Decreases feelings of depression, anxiety and isolation
- Enhances coping skills and resilience
- Engages the senses to improve the mind-body connection
- Promotes empowerment and regaining control
- Increases self-awareness and self-esteem
- Defines and strengthens identity
- Provides a means of self-expression and enhances communication with family, friends and caregivers
- Manages symptoms and reduces side effects from medical treatments such as pain, nausea, etc.
- Provides a distraction during uncomfortable procedures and long waits
- Improves quality of life
At Friends of Hospice, we are acutely cognizant of the need to maintain high professional standards and best practices. We do this by providing access to continuing professional development for the staff of Agape House and Friends of Hospice.