Hospice is end-of-life care. Hospice provides palliative/comfort care to the terminally ill when there is no longer a cure. The care is provided in the patient’s residence, whether that is in their house, nursing home, or assisted living.
Hospice is a team of caregiving professionals (including physicians, nurses, social workers, certified home health aides, chaplains, therapists, counselors, and volunteers) working together to serve not only the patient, but also their family.
Hospice combines the knowledge and skill of each disciplinary who coordinate and devise an individualized plan of care for each patient and their family. Hospice also includes the patient and family in decisions regarding the patient’s plan of care and allows the patient and family to participate fully in the final stages of life.
When a patient signs on for hospice care, all medications related to the terminal illness, are paid for by the hospice. Also, any equipment the patient might need, such as, but not limited to, hospital bed, wheelchair, walker, oxygen is provided by the hospice agency.
Does accepting hospice mean giving up hope?
No. When patients and families are faced with a terminal illness, many tend to dwell on the imminent loss of life rather than on making the most of the life that remains. Hospice helps patients and families to understand that even though death can lead to sadness, anger, and pain, it can also lead to opportunities for reminiscence, laughter, reunion, and hope. Hope that will enable the patient to live his or her life to its fullest.
What are the advantages of Hospice?
· Hospice care allows the patient to remain in their home surrounded by their family/loved ones.
· Hospice care is a cost-effective alternative to the high costs associated with hospitals.
· Hospice care is the preferred choice of health care delivery for the terminally ill.
· Hospice treats the person, not the disease, focusing on the patient and family.
· Hospice care emphasizes quality of life, no quantity.
Who qualifies for Hospice care?
Any person with a terminal condition that their physician has deemed their life expectancy as six months or less. However, if the patient lives longer than the initial six months, he or she can continue receiving hospice care as long as the attending physician or medical director recertifies that the patient is terminally ill.
Is Hospice care just for people with cancer?
No. Other diagnoses include diseases of the circulatory system, diseases of the respiratory system, infectious diseases, which include AIDS, and diseases of the nervous system, including Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
What is the cost of Hospice care?
Hospice care services are covered by Medicare, most private insurance plans, HMO’s, and other managed care organizations.
Who can refer a patient for Hospice care?
Anyone can make a referral to a hospice agency for a patient. The hospice RN will do an evaluation to determine if the person is hospice appropriate, and then contact the patient’s physician to verify that the patient is terminally ill with a life expectancy of six months or less.
It is the patient’s right and decision to determine when hospice is appropriate and which agency suits their needs.
SERVICES PROVIDED THROUGH HOSPICE CARE
1. Nursing Care
Registered nurses coordinate the care for every patient. Along with the R.N., L.P.N’s also provide direct patient care, evaluate the patient’s condition, and check medications. The nurse also does patient and family education.
2. Medical Social Services
The social worker provides advice and counseling to the patient and family members. The social worker also educates the patient and family on DNR orders, Living Wills, and Power of Attorney concerns. The social worker also assists other care team members in understanding the family dynamics and acts as an advocate for the patient and family.
3. Physician Services
The patient’s attending physician approves the plan of care and works with the hospice team for continuity of care. Hospice agencies also have hospice medical directors who are available to the attending physician, patient, and the hospice care team as a consultant and resource.
4. Spiritual Services
Clergy also make visits to see the patients and families providing spiritual support related to end-of-life issues.
5. Home Health Aides
Home health aides services are offered to each patient. These services provide personal care for the patient, such as bathing, shampooing, dressing, and more.
6. Homemaker and Sitter Services
Homemaker services are available for the patient and family. These services include light housekeeping, meal preparation, grocery shopping, and running errands. Sitter services are available for when a family member needs to go to the doctor or run errands.
7. Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapies
These services are available on an individual basis. These therapies would assist patients, if possible, to develop new ways to accomplish such tasks as walking, dressing, and feeding oneself.
8. 24-Hour On-call Availability
A hospice team member is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If a problem should arise, a nurse is available to offer advice over the phone and, if necessary, make a visit.
9. Continuous Care in the Home
If the patient’s needs require it, or the family can no longer manage the level of care required around the clock, the hospice staff can provide care for 8 to 24-hour periods on a short term basis.
10. Respite Care
Respite care is available to provide relief for family members for up to 5 days.
11. Bereavement Services
Bereavement services are available to surviving family members to help them through the grieving process. Services are available for the first 13 months after a loved one has passed. Services may include counseling, phone calls, and support groups.