At the very end of life it can be a bit of luxury again. Luxury – in the hospice in Germering this can be a tiny ice cube from your favorite drink under your tongue for guests who can no longer swallow. Or a piece of sausage wrapped in gauze and placed in the cheek pouch. “If eating is no longer possible, that’s still possible,” explains Tina Lamprecht, the head of the hospice. Guests, that’s what the seriously ill and dying people who spend their last days and weeks there are called in the hospice. There are ten single rooms with a balcony or terrace, a room where relatives can stay overnight, and a garden. In addition, lounges, a kitchen, a nursing bathroom, a quiet room.
Hospice is available to anyone with a progressive, rapidly deteriorating illness that is fatal and does not require hospital treatment. This is how Lamprecht explains it. It is usually cancer, but severe respiratory, heart or kidney diseases are also typical diagnoses. Religion or belief is irrelevant. Anyone who already lives in a home cannot move to a hospice – there is care around the clock anyway, often with palliative care professionals. 95 percent of the costs for the stay are borne by the health and nursing care insurance companies, the rest is financed by donations. There is no deductible; Relatives can also stay in the hospice free of charge and eat meals there if they wish. So they have time to say goodbye.
The newly built Max and Gabriele Strobl House in Germering houses one of seven hospices in Upper Bavaria and the 22nd in all of Bavaria. It is responsible for the districts of Fürstenfeldbruck and Landsberg am Lech as well as parts of the districts of Dachau and Starnberg. Together with the women’s shelter in the same complex, it should be “a house of life”, as Mayor Andreas Haas put it.
“We live before we die,” said Lamprecht, 44, at the official opening on Wednesday. She radiates a lot of joie de vivre and confidence and promises: “We want to stand there with open arms that you can let yourself fall into.” There is a lot of laughter in the hospice, but of course you can also cry. Lamprecht, who previously managed the hospice in Ingolstadt and is happy that she can now build a completely new house, feels that she and her team have settled in well in the city. “We were able to experience that we are in the middle and are welcome,” she says – the hospice is located in Germering between the town hall and the town hall, just 500 meters from the S-Bahn station. The Deputy Mayor Manuela Kreuzmair and District Administrator Thomas Karmasin also express their joy about the facility.
During a tour of the house, Lamprecht explains in more detail how more life can be given to the last few days. For example, with a long bath, with a glass of sparkling wine and music – that can also be a luxury. “Many haven’t been in the tub for years,” she says. Now everyone can enjoy this, there are lifters with which the guests can be lifted into the tub and above all out again, even those who are no longer mobile. In other facilities, they are sometimes driven naked across the corridors to the bathroom because there is not enough space to undress. But that is not compatible with human dignity, says Lamprecht. In Germering, the bathroom is so large that guests can be rolled up to the bath in their beds if necessary.
From such details you can tell that the experts from the Germering Hospice Association were significantly involved in the planning, above all Elisabeth Braams and Sina Muscholl, who initially took over the management of the non-profit Hospice Germering GmbH on a voluntary basis and then full-time. Among other things, they energetically supported the establishment of the care bath. The district of Fürstenfeldbruck, the city of Germering and the hospice association have joined forces to form the gGmbH. The hospice association has been working towards the establishment of the hospice for over ten years. Chairman Peter Braun, former Mayor of Germeringer, says at the opening that he is “happy that we can experience this day”.
The first two guests move in on June 20th. Anyone who arrives in the bright new building with the calm, reserved color scheme usually knows that he or she will probably die in the hospice. Only very rarely does someone recover to such an extent that they can leave it again, says Lamprecht. The people there are no longer subject to the routine of a hospital. You can sleep as long as you want in the morning, and if you wish you can have your favorite meal, which is freshly prepared in-house. The managing directors have managed to ensure that there is a kitchen and no outside catering.
“We’re good at dying. Very few people know that.”
Some are in the hospice for a few days before they die, others four to six months, most about three weeks, Lamprecht explains. With the help of doctors, specially trained therapists and nurses, psychologists and pastors, and more than 40 volunteers, death can usually be experienced painlessly, without shortness of breath and without fear.
For Lamprecht, the offer of the hospices to enable a dignified death is also an argument against facilitating euthanasia and assisted suicide. “We handle dying well,” she says. “Few know that.” In general, she wishes that more would be said about death and dying in society.
This is one of the reasons why the hospice wants to cooperate with the women’s shelter in the directly adjacent, but completely closed building. Lamprecht can imagine that the children living there, for example, design their lantern procession in such a way that it leads past the hospice and maybe even ends in its garden. The management of the women’s shelter has already signaled that they also want to work together. Kindergartens, schools and confirmation groups should bring life into the house, young people could play music on the piano that is still to be purchased. Lamprecht knows that socializing isn’t really for the dying, but “something is stirring”.
The house offers the guests, but also the relatives, time and space to say goodbye and also to make peace. “This is the last time you have together. You can’t make up for it,” says Lamprecht. Relatives can stay in their own room or in the guests’ rooms. Especially for couples, the guest’s bed and the partner’s lounger can be placed next to each other at the same height so that they can easily hold hands. The hospice team also wants to be there for the relatives. Because they would have to live on after the guest had died. “And grief takes strength,” Lamprecht knows. If you want, you can have the hospice association accompany you through the mourning process.
The room of silence offers a retreat. It is a place for mourning rituals, especially important for children whose father or mother dies in the hospice. Once a week there will be a farewell ritual for all employees, in which the guests who died during that week will be remembered. “We also do it so as not to become numb,” explains Lamprecht. The (with the management) 31 employees were selected very carefully, an important criterion was their attitude to the topic, Lamprecht calls it “attitude”.
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