Pain Awareness Month – Benefits of Palliative Care, LINK

September is Pain Awareness Month and a perfect opportunity to focus on awareness of issues in the area of pain and pain management. It’s also a great time to talk about palliative care. For those that don’t know what palliative care is, it is a type of care that focuses on pain and symptom management and places attention on the patient rather than the disease or illness. Palliative care can be provided anywhere – home, hospital, assisted living facility or nursing facility.

Cedar Valley Hospice staff are trained experts in this area and we also offer a program, LINK, specifically for palliative care. LINK stands for Listen, Inform, Navigate and Knowledge and was developed to provide supportive care to those individuals and families facing a life-limiting illness and don’t yet qualify for hospice, or simply aren’t ready for hospice. The goals of LINK are: listen to patients and families, inform patients and families of resources in their communities, navigate the current health care system and educate patients and family members on health care choices and treatments.

Patients on the LINK program receive visits from a nurse and social worker that offer support, companionship and assistance. Someone might consider LINK if they have recurrent hospital admission for an advanced illness, difficulty managing symptoms, family conflicts regarding course of treatment or distress, anxiety or loss of hope. To be eligible for LINK, patients must be diagnosed with an advanced stage of a life limiting illness with a physical and/or psychosocial need.

The difference between LINK and hospice is LINK patients can still be seeking a cure for their illness. All hospice care is palliative but not all palliative care is hospice. Many patients on LINK might qualify for hospice but may not be ready to take that step yet.

LINK social worker, Erin Hubbard, says this program is beneficial to help those who may qualify for hospice in the future be prepared and know not to be afraid of making that transition to hospice.

Erin’s favorite part of her job is building relationships with patients and coming into their lives at a time when they need support, guidance and direction.

“We help ease the stress of their diagnosis and help patients make necessary decisions,” Erin said.

Having a palliative care program is another quality that makes Cedar Valley Hospice unique. Palliative care provides a way for those with a life-limiting illness or chronic pain to take control of their lives which helps improve quality of life. For questions on palliative care or the LINK program or to find out how LINK can help you or your loved ones, click here or call Cedar Valley Hospice at 319.272.2002.

Paying For End-Of-Life Care

One of the many misconceptions of hospice is that it costs too much. Many families are not aware that hospice is paid for through the Medicare or Medicaid Hospice Benefit and most private insurers.

Cedar Valley Hospice is a not-for-profit organization and provides care to anyone who qualifies for admission, regardless of inability to pay. Community contributions assure care for those who cannot pay and for costs not covered by insurance.

The Medicare Hospice Benefit provides a model for financing end-of-life care that can bring great relief and support to families during one of life’s most difficult times. There is never a charge to Medicare or Medicaid recipients for hospice services. As a result, the financial burdens often associated with caring for a terminally-ill patient are lifted.

Hospice care at Cedar Valley Hospice also offers supports to the loved ones of the patient; this brings an added level of relief to the dying person, knowing their loved ones are being cared for as well.

Medicare covers these services from a hospice provider when related to the terminal prognosis:

  • Nursing care
  • Medical equipment (example – wheelchair or hospital bed)
  • Medical supplies (like bandages and catheters)
  • Drugs for symptom control and pain relief
  • Short-term care in the hospital or the Cedar Valley Hospice Home, including respite and inpatient for pain and symptom management
  • Home health aide and homemaker services
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Social work services
  • Dietary counseling
  • Grief support (The grief services at Cedar Valley Hospice are always provided at no cost to anyone in the community grieving the death of a loved one)

Medicare will still pay for covered benefits for any health problems that aren’t related to a terminal illness.

The team members at Cedar Valley Hospice are experts in medical care, pain management and provide emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. Families making end-of-life decisions for a loved one need compassion and support, not financial worries. Cedar Valley Hospice is here to Make Each Moment Matter and alleviates those concerns so that the main focus for the patient and family is spending time with their loved one.

Click here to read more about the Medicare hospice benefit, or visit

To learn more about the services at Cedar Valley Hospice and the resources available to patients, families and the community, call 319.272.2002 or visit

Tim Moses, Son

Don’t Wait to Call – Five Myths of Hospice

Far too many people wait until they are in the midst of a health care crisis before thinking about what options are available and what care they or their loved ones would have wanted. Hospice professionals deal with these challenging situations every day – that’s what they are trained to do.

When a family is coping with a terminal illness, hospice provides comfort and dignity, making sure every day is as good a day as possible. Hospice care includes expert medical care, pain management and emotional and spiritual support. Care is provided by an inter-disciplinary team of professionals, including trained volunteers, focused on making the wishes of the patient and family the center of care.

At Cedar Valley Hospice, we often hear, “we wish we would have called sooner.” This is because many people are scared of hospice and are faced with many misconceptions about it.

“We waited too late, we thought it was something that Dad would overcome. I wish we would have contacted Cedar Valley Hospice sooner because it would have taken the pressure off of us as kids. I’m glad we did make the call because it helped things go more smoothly at the end.” Tim Moses, Son

Here are five common myths of hospice:

MYTH: Hospice is a place.
FACT: Hospice services are provided in a patient’s own home, a nursing home, long-term care facility or hospital. Cedar Valley Hospice also offers a hospice home available for short-term stays to manage a pain crisis, provide respite or residential.

MYTH: Only a physician decides it is time for hospice.
FACT: Anyone can make a referral – family member, clergy, physician, hospital, nursing home.

MYTH: Hospice means not returning to medical treatment.
FACT: Hospice nurses and physicians are experts in the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom management. Once on a hospice program you are being cared for physically, socially and emotionally. Many times this quality care improves a patient’s health to a point that they no longer qualify for hospice, resulting in a graduation from the hospice program. At this time patients may choose to seek curative treatment again.

MYTH: Hospice is only for the last few days of life.
FACT: Hospice is for patients with a prognosis of six months or less. Research shows that those on a hospice program, live longer compared to someone with the same diagnosis and prognosis of someone who is not.

MYTH: All hospices are the same.
FACT: There are certain services hospices are required to provide for Medicare certification. Cedar Valley Hospice offers what is required and a variety of additional services to meet the needs of patients and families. These services include: grief services for families and children, a LINK palliative care program for people with a serious illness but do not yet qualify for hospice and CASS (Cedar AIDS Support System) case management for people with HIV and AIDS. There are also for-profit hospices and not-for-profit. Cedar Valley Hospice is a not-for-profit organization.

When hospice is involved at the end of life, there are many benefits to the patient, their family and friends. The sooner the call is made, the sooner our staff can begin building relationships come in and start a plan of care. This helps improve quality of life for the patient and helps ease many concerns from family members. Calling Cedar Valley Hospice allows family members to be the husband, the daughter, the sister or brother again, rather than only a caregiver. One of the best ways to make sure you and your loved ones benefit fully from hospice, is to talk about it and educate yourself before it becomes an issue before you would ever need this type of care.

Along with providing hospice services, Cedar Valley Hospice provides many different resources to the community. Our speakers bureau program provides presentations at no cost to any groups in the community and there are several topics including general hospice, grief, death and much more. Cedar Valley Hospice grief support services are offered to anyone in the community grieving the death of a loved one. There are also several different grief support groups taking place in our service area communities. We also offer workplace resources and tips for supporting employees going through a difficult time through the Caring Connections program. To learn more about Cedar Valley Hospice and the resources available to the community, call 319.272.2002 or visit

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15 Years of the Cedar Valley Hospice Home

For 15 years the Cedar Valley Hospice Home has been providing comfort, care and a peaceful atmosphere for thousands of patients and families during life’s most difficult times. The area’s only hospice home was built in the year 2000 and includes six patient rooms, solace room, therapy room with a spa tub for patients, along with a family kitchen, dining and family room that leads out back to a patio and tribute garden. For those that live out of town, there is a guest bathroom that includes a shower and for kids, there is a playroom.

Over the years, the Hospice Home has been witness to several of life’s most special events including a baptism, graduation party and wedding. After years of caring for patients and hosting families, the Hospice Home was recently renovated and includes new furniture, flooring, paint and appliances that will be able to keep up with the changing times.

Many Cedar Valley Hospice patients receive care in their homes. However, when this isn’t possible and a patient’s pain and symptoms are not easily managed at home, the Hospice Home is there providing around-the-clock care. The Hospice Home also provides respite care, or short-term residential stays that allow caregivers to take a temporary break.

Jennifer Toneff, wife and mother, is one of thousands that has witnessed the care and compassion given at the Hospice Home. Toneff’s husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and spent his final weeks there.

“With the fantastic care from the Cedar Valley Hospice nurses and doctors, we were able to get some of my husband back for a little while,” Jennifer Toneff said, “which was important for the girls.”

While at the Hospice Home with her husband, Jennifer was able to be the wife and mother, rather than only a caregiver during his final weeks, allowing them to make special memories.

The Hospice Home has been an important part of the plan of care for so many patients and we invite you to take a look at the updated space! Thank you to all of those who made this renovation possible, and for the patients and families that have allowed us into your lives to care for your loved ones. We are honored to serve this community and will continually be committed to Making Each Moment Matter.

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Memorial Day – A Day of Remembrance

Memorial Day is often a time when family gathers and enjoys good company, food and fun. For many, though, Memorial Day has a different meaning. It is a day we remember our loved ones and provides an opportunity to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation, through their military service. Memorial Day can bring up feelings of grief and can be a hard day for those who have experienced the death of a loved one. This is a time we should reach out and comfort them and let them know that we recognize and honor the sacrifice their loved one has made.

Understanding death isn’t easy. When a family has experienced the death of a loved one, each member of the family is affected. How this is perceived and experienced is based on countless factors, including relationship, manner of death, age of the person, cultural beliefs and financial constraints. Other’s grief is such a private and individual experience that it can be nearly impossible to imagine them all.

Simple things you can do to provide support are to understand that everyone grieves differently, especially children.  Remember, there is no wrong way to grieve or a time limit to grief. You can be there for someone grieving by simply listening to what they have to say and being there for support. In honor of Memorial Day, find a way to serve someone in memory of your loved one or do something your loved one enjoyed. No matter what someone is feeling, it is healthy to acknowledge those feelings.

Additionally, Cedar Valley Hospice recognizes Memorial Day as a day of remembrance and understands how it is particularly meaningful to our nation’s Veterans. We believe it is important to show our appreciation to those who served our country and are part of the We Honor Veterans program, a service through the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Cedar Valley Hospice is here as a resource for anyone in the community that is grieving the death of a loved one, regardless of whether the family member was on our hospice program or not. These services are provided at no cost. For more information on our grief support services or the We Honor Veterans program, visit our website at or call 319.272.2002.




April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day

April 16 is designated as National Healthcare Decisions Day, and we would like to recognize this day by encouraging you to consider your future healthcare decisions. National Healthcare Decisions Day exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.

What if a sudden, serious illness or accident leaves you unable to breathe on your own, would you want a tube to be placed in your throat to push air into and out of your lungs? How would your general health condition affect this decision?

If you’re diagnosed with a life shortening incurable illness, do you want the focus of your care to be on keeping you comfortable and pain free? Or do you want a combination of life-extending care and comfort care? An advance directive can specify your choices and designate a decision-maker when you are unable to communicate your own wishes.

Advance directive describes two types of legal documents that enable you to document your end-of-life wishes in the event that you are unable to communicate. A living will and healthcare power of attorney are state-specific documents.

Living Will:

A living will allows you to document your wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of life. Before your living will can guide medical decision-making a physician must certify:

  • You are unable to make medical decisions
  • You are in the medical condition specified in the state’s living will law (such as “terminal illness” or “permanent unconsciousness”).

Healthcare Power of Attorney:

A healthcare power of attorney allows you to appoint a person you trust as your healthcare agent who is authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf. Before a healthcare power of attorney goes into effect a person’s physician must conclude that they are unable to make their own medical decisions. In addition:

  • If a person regains the ability to make decisions, the agent cannot continue to act on the person’s behalf.
  • Many states have additional requirements that apply only to decisions about life-sustaining medical treatments, stressing the importance of completing the advance directive for the state in which you will receive care.

Cedar Valley Hospice has copies of advance directives and is able to assist you when it comes to filling out these forms. We also provide presentations on advance care planning at no cost. If you have questions, would like more information or would like to schedule a presentation, please call 319.272.2002.

social work new

National Social Work Month 2015

March is National Social Work Month! We would like to take this opportunity to celebrate our social workers and highlight the important work they do. This year’s theme chosen by the National Association of Social Workers is “Social Work Paves the Way for Change.”

Social workers are an essential part of the interdisciplinary team at Cedar Valley Hospice. They listen to the goals and needs of each patient, their family members and loved ones. They also provide assistance with family life issues that may include coordinating community health resources, emotional support and end-of-life wishes.

“Social work is important because hospice is not just about meeting the physical needs of the patient,” says Cedar Valley Hospice Client Services Manager, Nathan Schutt. “It’s focusing on areas such as quality of life, accomplishing end of life goals and sometimes healing relationships.”

“Many of the areas that affect a person who is living with a terminal illness cannot be treated with a medication or therapy, but through the relationships and feelings they share at the end of life,” Schutt said. “At Cedar Valley Hospice, social workers help patients and families to work towards making each moment matter and making sure nothing is left unsaid or undone.”

Amy Peyton is a social worker in our Independence office and has been at Cedar Valley Hospice since starting out as a social work intern in 2003.

“I love my job because it allows me to care for people in my community at a very tender time and it reminds me daily to make moments meaningful,” Peyton said. “I am humbled to be allowed to journey with families during a difficult, sacred and intimate time.”

Throughout the month on our Facebook page, we will feature some of our social workers along with why they love what they do. Make sure to celebrate National Social Work Month with us and learn more about the social workers at Cedar Valley Hospice!

Cedar Valley Hospice Music Therapist Rachel Johnson works with children at the 2014 summer grief camp.

Music Therapy at Cedar Valley Hospice

Cedar Valley Hospice offers a variety of unique services to patients and families. Music therapy is one of these services. The use of music is beneficial and meaningful to all patients regardless of age, sex, background, musical preference or diagnosis. Music therapy has also been shown to be very effective for hospice patients by reducing anxiety, providing relaxation and helping with pain control.

Because music therapy is a service that is not reimbursed by government funding, Cedar Valley Hospice relies on donations to offer this service to patients and their families. Every patient is offered the ability to receive music therapy with the opportunities to choose specific goals to improve their overall quality of life and hospice experience.

There are currently 58 patients at Cedar Valley Hospice receiving music therapy visits. Each week, there are 35-40 music therapy visits offered in all of our site areas and locations. Visits are offered wherever the patient calls home (nursing homes, patient homes, hospitals and the Cedar Valley Hospice Home). All patients at the Hospice Home are offered a music therapy visit 1-2 times per week. In 2014, 429 patients at Cedar Valley Hospice received music therapy visits.

Music therapy plays an important role at Cedar Valley Hospice because music is something nearly everyone can relate to in some way. For those who are grieving, music can help bring back positive memories of their loved ones. This past summer, Cedar Valley Hospice held its first children’s grief camp and the campers were able to write their own verses to a song that included memories they shared with their loved ones.

Choosing to participate in music therapy allows patients the opportunity to make choices like what style of music is played, how many songs are played, how long a session is and so much more.

“In a situation where patients have very little control over so many decisions – it is a blessing to be able to provide one thing they still have a chance to control,” Cedar Valley Hospice Music Therapist Rachel Johnson, said. “I feel so honored to be able to provide music in a way that truly meets the Cedar Valley Hospice mission of Making Each Moment Matter.” For more information on music therapy at Cedar Valley Hospice, call 319.272.2002 or visit

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day 2014

World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year and gives us an opportunity to educate others about HIV and AIDS and how it impacts our communities. It also teaches us how we can respond with care and compassion for those living with this disease, as well as their friends and family. HIV and AIDS is present in our community and together, we can help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and create an AIDS-free generation.

Did you know?

-According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S.

-According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, there are 2100 people living with HIV in the state of Iowa and there are 96 people living with HIV in Black Hawk County.

Together we can help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and create an informed, healthy community that provides acceptance, compassion and support to our neighbors living with HIV and AIDS.

The Cedar AIDS Support System (CASS), a program of Cedar Valley Hospice, provides medical case management and care for persons living with HIV and AIDS and their families. CASS also offers many resources and programs for the communities we serve. Information on CASS is available to anyone, and anyone is able to make a referral. For more information, call 319-272-2437 or visit

8 Questions to Ask when Looking for a Hospice Provider

Questions to ask when you are searching for a hospice care provider

Finding a quality hospice with the services you desire for yourself or a family member is an important task. You want to be sure your loved one is in the best, most caring hands possible while receiving the services they need.

It’s also important to know that you have a choice in hospice providers no matter what health care system you are using. Here are a few simple questions you can ask to determine which hospice is right for you or your loved one’s care.

Questions to Ask 

  1. Is the hospice provider Medicare certified?
    • Most hospices are certified by Medicare and are therefore required to follow Medicare rules and regulations. This is important if you wish to receive hospice care as part of your Medicare/Medicaid benefit.
  2. Is the hospice a for-profit or not-for-profit organization?
    • Whether or not the organization is not-for-profit or for-profit, may be important for you and your family. Cedar Valley Hospice is a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization and puts our patients and families at the forefront of every decision we make.
  3. How long has the hospice been operating in the community?
    • Since 1979, Cedar Valley Hospice has been providing care to patients and their families in the community, regardless of diagnosis or inability to pay.
  4. What additional services does the hospice provide?
    • All hospices are required to provide expert medical care, emotional and spiritual care, medicines, medical supplies and equipment volunteers and grief support after the death of a loved one. Cedar Valley Hospice goes above and beyond to provide these services and also has the Eucalyptus Tree, children’s grief program, LINK – our palliative care program, and the Cedar AIDS Support System, a program providing medical case management, care and support to those living with HIV/AIDS and their families.
  5. How are services provided after normal hours?
    • Our hospice staff can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week should a problem or concern arise or if hospice services are wanted.
  6. Does the hospice offer a facility to provide short-term inpatient care, and where is it located?
    • Cedar Valley Hospice offers the area’s only Hospice Home. This is a six-bedroom facility that offers care 24/7. Short-term patient stays (typically 3-5 days) provide pain and symptom management or other skilled nursing needs. Patients may also visit the Hospice Home for respite care.This stay provides family members temporary relief from caregiving or time to attend out-of-town functions.
  7. What services are provided by volunteers?
    • Cedar Valley Hospice Volunteers have many different roles that include patient and family support, grief support and working with children. Others help at the Hospice Home or at different events held throughout the year. Volunteers at Cedar Valley Hospice go through a 16-hour training before starting.
  8. How much does hospice care cost and is it covered by insurance?
    • Cedar valley Hospice care is available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance companies cover the cost of hospice services. Community contributions and a sliding fee scale for some programs of Cedar Valley Hospice cover costs for those who can’t pay.

Why You Should Choose Cedar Valley Hospice

At Cedar Valley Hospice, our programs are comprehensive and include services not only for the patient, but for their family members and friends as well.  In addition to providing hospice care, Cedar Valley Hospice provides grief services for anyone in the community grieving the loss of a loved one, with a program specifically for grieving children. Other programs include the Cedar AIDS Support System (CASS), that provides medical case management and care and support for those living with HIV/AIDS and their families, and LINK – a program that provides supportive care to those individuals and families facing a life threatening illness and not eligible or ready for hospice services.

“Compassionate care” is a way of living and working every day at Cedar Valley Hospice.  If you or your loved one needs hospice services, call Cedar Valley Hospice today at 319.272.2202 or 800.617.1972.