Mercyhealth at Home Hospice has a pet therapy program that allows clients to visit with Luna, a miniature horse.

Physical and Spiritual Support at Mercyhealth at Home

Providing comfort to clients and their families is top priority at Mercyhealth at Home Hospice. Learn what new amenities are in store for those whose choose hospice support.

Mercyhealth at Home Hospice has a pet therapy program that allows clients to  visit with Luna, a miniature horse.
Mercyhealth at Home Hospice has a pet therapy program that allows clients to visit with Luna, a miniature horse.

Comfort, compassion and dignity are essential ingredients for ideal end-of-life care. These qualities also define Mercyhealth at Home Hospice, now offering new and expanded amenities for those who choose hospice support.

Family members, the clients themselves, or medical professionals can refer a person to hospice care, says Dacia Hart, hospice director at Mercyhealth at Home Hospice.

“We can obtain a doctor’s order the day we assess the patient and our medical director agrees the patient qualifies,” she says.

During the hospice assessment, a nurse and a social worker discuss the program’s features with the client and their family, including insurance and Medicare benefits, an overview of the hospice philosophy and a presentation of the available services. Hospice covers supplies, equipment and medications related to the hospice diagnosis and symptom control, Hart says. Services are covered under Medicare.

“We offer bereavement support for the family, chaplain services, social workers, home health aides and skilled nurses,” Hart adds.

Mercyhealth at Home also offers special programs tailored to a client’s interests. Music therapy allows clients to enjoy the talents of volunteer instrumentalists. Veteran volunteers are available to visit with hospice clients who have served in the military. The Pet Piece of Mind program allows a client’s pet to be cared for at a boarding facility and then brought to visit once a month.

Recently, Mercyhealth at Home has added new services.

“Our pet therapy program now includes the option for clients to visit with Luna, who is a miniature horse,” Hart says. “We have dementia patients who never smile or move very much, and their faces just light up when they see Luna; they want to pet her, talk to her and snuggle. A visit with Luna is very fulfilling for our clients.”

According to Hart, Mercyhealth at Home is trying a more holistic approach to hospice care with the addition of Reiki, reflexology and essential oils along with its massage therapy program.

“We have seen amazing results for clients who are treated with essential oils,” Hart says. “Dementia sufferers who are agitated can be calmed down by having staff massage some lavender essential oil to their hands. The lavender oil also works very well in alleviating leg swelling and helping to heal skin abrasions.”

In addition to these holistic options, clients can chose to participate in dignity therapy.

“Dignity therapy brings a sense of meaning, purpose and closure to a client’s life,” Hart explains. “Our dignity therapist will ask the hospice client open-ended questions, and together, they will formulate the client’s life story which is then given to the patient and family members. This gives the family a living legacy of their loved one.”

Mark Schwartzlow was a client of Mercyhealth at Home Hospice for two years prior to his March 2018 death from congestive heart failure. His widow, Carla, recalls how her late husband customized hospice care to his needs.

“Mark was always in control of his care from day one,” she says. “Mercyhealth at Home made sure that his experience was focused on him living his life to the fullest. Dr. [Mohammed Ilyas Ahmed-Khan] and the team did a wonderful job with Mark’s care.”

Massage therapy and frequent meetings with the chaplain were two of the services that kept Mark physically and spiritually supported during the end of his life.

“The massage therapist came to treat pain in Mark’s neck and back, and he enjoyed visits with the chaplain immensely,” Carla says. She personally received comfort and support from bereavement counseling after Mark’s death.

“We’re all born and die only once,” Hart adds. “So, making the end-of-life experience peaceful and comfortable for the client and their family through hospice care is extremely rewarding.”

For more information, visit or call (815) 971-3550.