FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News From Arms of Aloha
October 23, 2017
Contact: Carolyn Naun, DVM 808-435-3006 ext 3, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hawaii Gets its First Certified Expert in Animal Hospice and Palliative Care
Carolyn Naun, DVM, CHPV, is in the world’s first class of students to gain the distinction
It’s only recently that standards of care have been established for the emerging field of palliative veterinary medicine, which is aimed at supporting the patient’s quality of life during a chronic or serious illness. Using a team approach, the pet’s physical, emotional, and social needs, as well as the emotional, spiritual, and social needs of their human caregivers, are discussed and addressed with the family. The term hospice is applied when the pet has a terminal diagnosis.
The effort to set guidelines for hospice and palliative medicine was spearheaded by the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC), which also administers the certification program. Over 16 months, students must complete 100 hours of advanced training, complete two case reports demonstrating their knowledge and competence in palliative medicine, and pass a comprehensive exam. The program is offered annually and is open to licensed veterinarians and credentialed veterinary technicians.
According to the IAAHPC guidelines, the needs of the entire family unit should be considered. An interdisciplinary team of veterinary professionals, pet care providers, human mental health workers, and grief counselors collaborates with the family to provide a truly holistic approach. In the case of a terminal illness, the hospice team can guide the family through deciding if and when to choose euthanasia, or can help them keep the pet comfortable through the natural dying process.
Dr. Naun started the hospice after recognizing a great need for comfort care during the advanced stages of life-limiting illnesses. “Pets have truly become part of the family. Many of us consider our animals to be children,” says Dr. Naun, “but most of us must inevitably face that pet’s end-of-life stage. It can be incredibly overwhelming for the caregivers.
“We sit down with the family and let them tell us their full story, then walk along with them on that journey, providing support not just through the death of the pet, but beyond that while they’re grieving.” The family participates in developing a personalized care plan, receives education on what to expect as the illness progresses, and gets help from the hospice team with everything from learning how to administer medications to dealing with unexpected events.
The most popular services are in-home euthanasia and hospice care. Arms of Aloha also sells assistive devices, rents out wheelchairs for dogs, and provides grief support. Their pet loss support group, open to the public, meets weekly at their Kailua office. Pet owners are encouraged to call to discuss their options at any stage of illness. “We love helping people and spend a lot of time talking on the phone,” says Dr. Naun.
A centerpiece of the practice is its website. Dr. Naun curates an online library of topics ranging from practical tips and decision making to coping with grief. “It’s really important to me,” she says, “to be able to provide something helpful to anyone who calls us or visits the website, whether they choose to engage our services or not.”
Dr. Naun hopes that setting apart animal hospice and palliative care as a specific area of expertise will help raise awareness of the need for quality of life management in senior pets, and recognition of the impact that caring for a seriously ill pet has on the human caregiver. “As a profession, we have made great progress and are headed in the right direction,” she says, “but we still have a ways to go.”
More information about Arms of Aloha, with links to the resources below: www.armsofaloha.com/media
Facebook and Twitter: @armsofaloha
See our Yelp reviews for comments from clients: https://www.yelp.com/biz/arms-of-aloha-kaneohe-3
More information about Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (AHPC): https://iaahpc.org/for-the-professional/faq.html
IAAHPC practice guidelines: http://bit.ly/2gAe45U
The American Veterinary Medical Association’s position statement on Veterinary End-of-Life Care: http://bit.ly/2l5UIGZ
American Animal Hospital Association / IAAHPC 2016 End-of-Life Care Guidelines: http://bit.ly/2lwl55K