“Giving life meaning”

Working for the Fürth Hospice Association

Responsibility & dedication, 13.02.2020

The Hospizverein Fürth has been awarded the first prize of €5,000 in the ERGO Engagement Competition. For the competition, employees presented their private voluntary project, for colleagues to vote for their favourite project online. In Fürth, the prize money is to be used for the interior fittings for the planned in-patient hospice. Roland Martin Hanke, a doctor himself, heads up the association where our colleague Christiane Marsing does voluntary work.

Dr. Roland Hanke, Hospizverein Fürth

Dr. Hanke, your association’s full-time and voluntary staff are currently on the road, visiting very seriously ill people either in their homes or at nursing homes. Why are you now planning to build an in-patient hospice in the Fürth area?

An in-patient hospice with eight to ten beds will round off what we provide with our regional hospice work. Currently, only one patient in three can be accommodated at a hospice, which is something our association would like to change. Nowadays, someone who is seriously ill does not want to, and should not have to, die in a hospital. However, in most cases they cannot be given the all-round support and care they need at the end of their life at home. Families are generally not able to cope. A hospice is then the right place for them.

Many people are aware that hospices exist, but as dying and death are taboo subjects that people don’t like to talk about, not many know who has to pay the bill for the time spent at the hospice. So perhaps sick people or their families don’t consider a hospice for that reason.

It is more a desire to see family members well cared for, which is also a consequence of the dilution of traditional family structures. Health and care insurance covers most of the costs, and the hospice institution has to pay 5%. However, to continue with this example, the doctor treating the patient, or the hospital, must first certify the patient’s need for a hospice.

The number of hospices has risen in recent years, from only 30 in 1996 to 230 in-patient hospices for adults and 17 for children with reduced life expectancy in 2019. Can you explain this increase?

Our society has developed a care culture that not only wants high-quality care to be guaranteed, but also demands that the weak among us be provided with it. The concept of hospices started over 50 years ago, based on the idea that very seriously ill or dying people needed care and support at the end of their lives. More than 120,000 people in our country commit their time on a voluntary or full-time basis to hospice work and to people they did not previously know. Voluntary work and the traditional donation make a real difference for hospice work.

You have worked as a palliative doctor for many years, looking after people who are dying. What role do you see for volunteers in hospice work?

The volunteers are the face, the ambassadors of every hospice association! They act as a link between the sick person and the family members, who often do not want to - or are unable to - let their loved one depart. The volunteers are like mediators. As “outsiders”, they are in a position to understand the situation impartially, but not without feeling. They help the dying person in their search for the meaning of their life. They can then generally let go and depart. The volunteers reconcile in the truest sense of the word, which also brings about a change for the family members. With the benefit of my experience, I can only encourage everyone to talk to their family members whilst they are alive and be reconciled with them every day. Ask yourself continuously what the meaning of your own life is – and change. Start today and you will be doing yourself a favour. In other words, commit yourself to it!

By Monika Stobrawe

You will find an interview on the ERGO Blog with  Dr. Roland Martin Hanke and Christiane Marsing, the colleague who works for the hospice.

Who bears the cost of a stay in an in-patient hospice?

The statutory health insurance pays a contribution of 95% of the required daily ratem agreed with the hospice for an in-patient stay. The contribution is granted on application, with payments that are made under care insurance deducted. The hospice must fund the remaining 5% of the required daily rate through donations. Insureds do not have to pay a share of the costs of the stay at the hospice (source: www.gkv-verband.de).

In our experience, private health insurance covers the costs of services, covered by the statutory health insurance funds. It is advisable to obtain approval for the costs from the private health insurance provider before admission to the hospice.

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