Kendal at Lexington partners with ConnectionsPlus Healthcare + Hospice, a 40-year-old nonprofit organization.

Clearing Up the Misconceptions

Many misconceptions exist about hospice and why or when someone would need it.  A recent merger between Rockbridge Area Hospice and Mountain Regional Hospice resulted in a new name for the combined agency – now known as ConnectionsPlus Healthcare + Hospice.

Executive Director Tasha Walsh said the new name better represents the work done by her agency, as health care is a big part of it.  And the word “hospice” tends to scare people, says Walsh, who is trying to overcome any negative connotations associated with it.

“Hospice does not mean you’re giving up; it means you’re being intentional about the rest of your life,” said Tasha. “Hospice care encompasses the last six months to a year of life, not just the last two weeks, and people can and do ‘graduate’ from hospice. Our main goal is to ensure that people have the opportunity to live their best life for as long as they can.” 

Tasha is a healthcare veteran with more than 30 years of experience. She is also a member of the Kendal at Lexington Board of Directors and the Strategic Planning Committee. 

Quality vs. Quantity

Quality versus quantity is often at the core of the choices those facing serious illness must make.

“For a real-life example, should someone with advanced dementia who develops pneumonia be sent to the hospital for aggressive treatment or opt instead to be kept comfortable and let the body do what it naturally would,” said Tasha. “Should someone with chronic COPD and a cancer diagnosis undergo grueling chemotherapy and radiation when they might have more time and less discomfort without it?”

Making the Best Decisions

Approaching hospice from a whole-person standpoint, ConnectionsPlus provides Rockbridge County and neighboring communities (including Kendal at Lexington) the support and counsel they and their families need to understand and ultimately make such decisions. This support is beneficial when they’re trying to weigh recommendations from various specialists focused on their particular areas of expertise.

The healthcare and hospice program offers resources tailored to individual needs beginning with a thorough physical, mental and spiritual assessment of those facing critical illness.

An Extra Layer of Support

This may include nurses to support KaLex healthcare staff, home health aides for personal care, counselors for emotional support, chaplains for spiritual guidance, volunteers to offer respite to spouses and bereavement specialists for family members after the death of their loved one.

The growing ConnectionsPlus network is an extra layer of support facilitating the “aging in place” (continuing care) model already adopted at Kendal.

“We help make this possible,” said Tasha. “Especially for residents living with spouses with lesser care needs.”

The Earlier, the Better

“We hear a lot from families that they wish they’d contacted us sooner. The earlier people call, the more we can help them identify what is most important in life to them,” said Tasha.

Together, ConnectionsPlus and Kendal at Lexington help residents and their families determine exactly what that is.