Hospice care

November is National Hospice Care Month. Hospice can be an emotional decision for families. In 2014, an estimated 1.7 million patients received hospice care services. Learn what hospice care is and how it may benefit your family.

At the center of hospice care is the belief that each person has the right to pass pain-free with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so.

Once a doctor estimates the patient has less than six months to live, the patient and his or her family may choose to utilize hospice care services. Hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs and other managed care organizations.

Hospice focuses on caring, not curing. The number one goal of hospice care is to provide end of life comfort care. Once on hospice, the goal is no longer to prevent or stop a disease, like cancer, it’s to make sure the patient is comfortable. The hospice team works together to provide the best pain management care.

Hospice Benefits

Hospice covers medications and equipment, such as oxygen and a bed for your loved one to help make them more comfortable.

Most hospice providers also offer massages and pet and music therapies to help with comfort and joy along with volunteers to read, talk or just be there for the patient.

Hospice providers offer 13 months of bereavement, grief counseling and support groups to families and friends to help them deal with their loss.

Hospice Care Team

The hospice care team is made up of a nurse, home health aids, a social worker, a chaplain and volunteers. The nurse is available 24 hours a day to make any emergency adjustments..

The chaplain is available for spiritual needs for the patient and his or her family. The social worker is available for family members and even the assisted living facility’s staff members to help them deal with the grieving process. Many times the grieving process starts before the loved one has passed.

Often the patient needs more care than what hospice can provide. Family members may have to help with day-to-day caregiving tasks. An in-home care worker is another caregiving resource.

Hospice Misconceptions

When you hear the word hospice, you may think it is a place your loved one will go to receive additional care, but it is a service that comes to the patient. Whether your loved one is receiving care at an assisted living facility or in-home care services at home, a hospice team will come to them.

Another common hospice care misconception is families think hospice care workers will be with their loved one all the time. In reality, the nurse will come to the home about once a week for a short period of time. Hospice nurses will increase the number of visits as the patient’s condition deteriorates. Hospice nursing assistants will visit the patient several times a week to assist with personal cares and bathing.

Hospice Planning

Hospice is about living! Talk as a family about the wishes for the patient for his or her end of life care. Families should plan on using hospice care in the earlier stages of a loved one’s disease process to take full advantage of the services hospice offers.

Many people have a stigma about hospice care. They think it is a last resort and their loved one is going to pass within days. However, there have been cases where people were on hospice for years. Some patients got better after hospice and no longer needed the services. Hospice does not always mean the worst, and the benefits it offers far outweigh the fear of using it.

If you have questions about hospice care services, please contact us. We will be happy to discuss the options and walk you through the process.