Common Questions About Hospice Care

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Common questions about hospice care
Published:  January 23, 2023

Coming to terms that a loved one may require hospice care to manage symptoms and provide social and psychological support at the end of their life can be difficult. Below are common questions you should ask to determine whether hospice care is the appropriate fit for your loved one.

What Is Hospice?

The thought of dying is often frightening for many individuals. Many people imagine these final times as being lonely and painful. Hospice care provides a holistic way of managing feelings of pain and loneliness by allowing an individual to live as comfortably and as fully as possible. Hospice might be an available option for individuals who are facing a life expectancy of six months or less.

What Is Included in Hospice Care?

Hospice care involves palliative care, such as symptom and pain relief, as opposed to curative measures. This type of care enables a patient to live their last days with dignity, support, grace, and as much purpose as possible. Hospice care can be provided wherever a person resides. This may include a personal residence or a long-term care facility. In most cases, however, hospice is administered in a patient’s own home, allowing the person to live the remainder of their days in a familiar and supportive environment.

An initial discussion with the hospice care providers can also clarify many concerns associated with hospice care. This conversation provides family members the opportunity to learn more about what is included and how they can be incorporated into the care plan as well. Having this conversation early can ease a lot of fears and make sure everyone is on the same page.

How Does Hospice Care Work?

Hospice care provides support and guidance and helps address emotional, physical, social, and spiritual needs. There is no age restriction for a patient who wishes to receive hospice care. Although specific hospice services will depend on the area of the country and the facility itself, most hospice services provide an interdisciplinary team consisting of the following disciplines:

  • Attending Physicians
  • Hospice Physician
  • Nurses
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Social Workers
  • Spiritual Professionals
  • Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Physical Therapists
  • Speech Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Volunteers
  • Bereavement Counselors
  • Registered Dietitians

Other specially trained volunteers may be a part of the team as well. Managing the needs of a loved one can often be difficult for family members. Hospice provides an essential support system for this reason.

What Is a Hospice Care Plan?

The hospice team is responsible for creating an individualized care plan specific to the needs of each patient. This individualized plan addresses necessary medical supplies, palliative therapies, medications, and equipment.

Since hospice care is usually provided in the home, a loved one may still be involved as the primary caregiver, with guidance and support provided by professional medical staff on the hospice care team. In addition, home care aides may also be present to assist with personal care services such as bathing and grooming.

In most situations, hospice staff will be on call seven days a week, 24 hours a day. A hospice interdisciplinary care team also provides spiritual and emotional support in line with the beliefs, needs, and wishes of the patient and the patient’s loved ones as well.

What Are the Benefits of Hospice Care?

Hospice care providers offer extensive support and knowledge at the end of life. This can help minimize the anxiety and fear that often plague terminally ill patients as well as their family members. Instead, the care and support offered by hospice allow patients to achieve some level of acceptance and make the most of their remaining time.

Many terminally ill patients make the choice to receive hospice and palliative care rather than continuing treatment for the terminal condition or disease. By making this decision, they avoid the potential risks associated with aggressive treatment.

In-home support from a hospice care team means that the patient will receive care and monitoring tailored to their individual needs. In addition to focusing on the comfort and physical health of the patient, hospice care also considers the spiritual support and the needs of caretakers and family members as well.

Who Is Eligible to Receive Hospice Care?

An individual may be eligible to receive hospice care when a healthcare provider has certified their prognosis is six months or less.

Some common hospice conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • End-stage Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • End-stage kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • End-stage heart disease
  • End-stage lung disease

An individual may be able to receive hospice care in a long-term-care facility, provided the facility agrees to allow hospice staff to provide primary care for the patient. Hospice pays for all equipment and medications that may be needed in the facility.

How to Know When It Is Time for Hospice Care

The timing of hospice care varies and largely depends on the individual experiences of the patient. There are some signs, however, that may lead a patient to consider hospice care. These may include the following.

  • The individual has decided to stop receiving curative treatments for their condition.
  • The individual has been admitted to the hospital multiple times with the same or increasingly worse symptoms of their condition.
  • The patient has required multiple trips to the emergency room to stabilize their condition, but the condition continues to progress and significantly affects their quality of life.
  • The individual desires to remain in their own home rather than the hospital.

Open communication regarding the benefits and timing of hospice care is important for all parties involved – patients, family members, and healthcare providers. Although ultimately the decision of the patient, the election of hospice care can benefit both the patient and caregivers. Hospice care not only helps provide the necessary support to a patient struggling with a terminal condition but also renders peace of mind for family members who are uncertain about what lies ahead.

If you have questions about hospice or are ready to speak to a Traditions Health representative, click the request care button below.

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