Hospice Serves the Hispanic Community
An Article from Reverend Michael Alfieri
In celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, Grane Hospice is committed to better understanding Hispanic culture, religion, and family values as they pertain to end of life care. This article lends insight into those values through a fictitious family and how Grane Hospice can serve the Hispanic community with quality end of life care.
Disclaimer: All characters and other entities appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons or other real-life entities is purely coincidental.
Ramon, Culture, and Diagnosis
Ramon is 86 years old and has lived a full and rewarding life with his wife Maria, their four children, ten grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Recently, Ramon was diagnosed with end stage cancer and his doctor recommended hospice services for his care. Ramon will not make this end of life decision on his own.
Within his Hispanic culture the family is more valued and important than the individual, even if one is terminal. Ramon’s family will gather together to hear what the doctor believes is the best possible choice for Ramon’s future care. Those in authority roles or positions will carry the weight of the decisions due to the respect they have earned among all family members. The final decision will not be made until most of the family members have been able to share their thoughts about Ramon and his future care.
Ramon, God, and Dying
Ramon, like many Hispanics, has a strong religious identity that permeates his life and family. The family views the act of dying and death itself as a natural experience governed by God’s decree and that Ramon’s soul is eternal and will continue onward upon his passing. The pain and illness caused by Ramon’s cancer may be viewed as a test of his and his family’s faith. This may affect Ramon and his family in agreeing to comfort measures with pain medications. So, therefore, they will reach out to their priest for spiritual guidance, comfort and support through prayers and at the appropriate time when the family deems it needed they will request the Anointing of the Sick sacrament to be given.
Ramon, Family, and Hospice
Ramon’s family will assume his care, particularly the female relatives. They will not be inclined to look for outside help for his care, so upon hearing of recommended hospice services Ramon’s family is distant. They know very little of hospice in terms of what they do and what is all involved, and may think of it as giving up on life and faith. Questions and doubts flood Ramon’s family – Will Ramon have the needed insurance to cover hospice? Can Ramon’s family trust the hospice provider?
For Grane Hospice, building trust and displaying respect within the Hispanic community will foster knowledge and understanding in end of life care for Ramon. Having either a bilingual or bi-cultural volunteer will aid in providing support to Ramon and his extended family in the days ahead. The hospice presence in the Hispanic culture will help to strengthen relationships in offering and providing physical, emotional and spiritual end of life care that Hispanic families can believe in and trust.