Speaker in Machias hospital discusses end-of-life care

Posted May 10, 2010, at 8:35 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — Kandyce Powell, executive director of the Maine Hospice Council in Augusta, was the featured speaker at a gathering last week at Down East Community Hospital.

Speaking to nearly three dozen Washington County social service providers on “Conversations with patients and families about end-of-life care,” she described some of the difficulties that face the terminally ill and their loved ones, and techniques professionals can employ to help ease the anguish and overwhelming emotion as life comes to an end.

The event held Thursday was organized by Community Health and Counseling of Machias, which does hospice work at homes and nursing centers in Washington County.

Whether a person has chosen to die at home or in a care facility, Powell said, good communication with the person and those around them is of utmost importance. Listening to their needs, their fears and their hopes is essential, she said.

As long as you speak out of kindness and love, she said, the natural uncertainty about how to relate to the patient can be overcome.

Powell spoke about her early work as a nurse in Boston and emphasized how hospice workers can be helpful at the end of life in organizing or advocating for treatments to make the patient’s final days as comfortable as possible.

She said “an interdisciplinary approach” to health care is important.

In addition to her work in Maine, Powell recently became national project manager for a new Department of Veterans Affairs program to provide hospice care for homeless veterans.

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