Raring to Return

Raring to Return

Hospice patient plans his next stay at the respite ‘resort’ 

Staff at the Elaine and Don Heimbigner Hospice Care Center in Vancouver were startled when 82-year-old Vincent Schile breezed in the front door, his red suitcase and walker in tow, and asked, “Where do I check in?”

The three surprised employees inquired, “How did you get here? Did someone drop you at the entrance?”

Vincent thought these were odd questions until he learned that most hospice patients arrive in an ambulance.

“No,” he replied. “I drove myself and parked in your front lot.”

An “international road warrior,” Vincent traveled frequently throughout his career so he didn’t think twice about driving himself for a five-day respite stay at the care center.

For patients like Vincent who receive hospice care at home, most of the caregiving is provided by a family member. In Vincent’s case, his wife of 50 years, Joyce, takes care of him.

Around-the-clock caregiving can be exhausting, and caregivers often need a rest — that’s where respite comes in. End-of-life patients receiving hospice services are eligible for “respite care” which is covered by the Medicare hospice benefit and most private insurance plans. Hospice respite care allows a family caregiver to get a break from caregiving duties while the patient is cared for in a Medicare-certified inpatient facility.

When Vincent learned that respite was really a benefit for Joyce, he thought that sounded pretty good. “Sign me up,” he told his provider. Joyce was thrilled to visit family in Seattle, and Vincent said he’d “never been in a nicer place.” He described his room as “lovely and spectacular” although the large walk-in shower was intimidating. But that didn’t bother him because he “wasn’t working up a sweat to need a shower.”

“It was fun to custom order my food. It was very much like eating at home.”

Vincent Schile

Vincent set up shop in one of the center’s cozy family rooms where he read, watched television, and ate his meals. He explained, “I didn’t need room service and it was fun to custom order my food. It was very much like eating at home.”

When his doctor first discussed respite with him, Vincent thought it sounded like a resort. After spending five days in our care center, he’s eagerly planning his next stay at the respite “resort”.

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