Most people envision Hospice as a service that is brought in to care for a person who is moments, days, or a few weeks from dying. Hospice is widely accepted under these terms as appropriate and the best way to keep someone comfortable right at the end of life. Waiting until Imminent death is a widely held misconception about Hospice and the benefits associated with it. Some patients and family members fear that choosing hospice means that nothing more can be done. But this is not the case. In fact, hospice patients often receive a lot of services to help improve the quality of life.
What is Hospice?
Hospice is a philosophy of care that focuses on comfort and quality of life for people suffering from a serious or terminal illness with a life expectancy of 6 months or less. The focus shifts from seeking a cure or invasive treatments to managing symptoms and pain. Hospice focuses on the whole person; body, mind and spirit. Hospice provides guidance and support to patients and families while preparing for end of life.
A Hospice team consists of trained doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplain, home care aids and other health care providers. The team may include physical and occupational therapists, massage therapists and music therapists. Some Hospice Providers offer pet therapy, registered dieticians and volunteer services. Hospice Providers are governed by Medicare and have a set of rules and regulations that define the Medicare coverage and guidelines needed to qualify for the Hospice Benefit under Medicare part A.
What are the Qualifications for Hospice?
The transition from chronic conditions to end-of-life can be subtle. Some disease processes are terminal but can take years from onset to conclusion. Alzheimer’s, COPD and Congestive Heart Failure are some examples of terminal illnesses that can be managed for years before death occurs. The following are some of the indicators that help determine if it’s time for Hospice:
Multiple Hospitalizations or ER visits, Recent or progressive weight loss
Difficulty swallowing, Decreased communication
Decreased caloric/fluid intake, Increased number of infections
Changes is comprehension, Increased incontinence
Changes in physical ability, Decreased communication
Increased shortness of breath, Wounds not healing properly
Increased edema, Decreased stamina and endurance
What are the Benefits of Hospice?
❖ Hospice offers a familiar environment. Hospice providers come directly to the patent’s home. While some people choose to relocate to a specialized Hospice Home, it is not required.
❖ Hospice provides a comprehensive plan. The key to providing comfortable final days is a comprehensive plan that involves a team of medical and health care professionals, who address all aspects of a patient’s illness with importance on controlling and reducing pain and discomfort. The hospice team works closely with the facility team and family to develop the plan of care. The use of massage therapy, pet therapy and music therapy can reduce anxiety and bring enjoyment to the patient.
❖ Hospice provides equipment as it is needed. Hospice provides hospital beds, wheel chairs and lift equipment as physical changes progress. The cost is covered under the Hospice benefit and can be delivered on site within a few hours.
❖ Hospice provides extra support for loved ones and families. While the facility staff continue to provide the day to day care, the hospice team provides additional support and attention for the patient. Families are also offered guidance and support during the dying process and after through counseling and bereavement services. Hospice nurses are on-call and can make a visit 24 hours a day to address any new changes or concerns.
❖ It Respects a patient’s wishes. This is an essential element of hospice care. By placing a loved in hospice, families can focus on spending time with the patient and not dealing with the red tape and extensive procedures of a hospital environment. With physical, emotional and spiritual pain addressed, patients and loved ones can spend the precious time remaining focusing on the things that are important to them.
End of life changes can be frightening for loved ones and families. The extra guidance and support from a hospice team can help patients and families cope and prepare for death. To receive the full impact and benefits of Hospice, it should be implemented sooner rather than later.
To find out more about Hospice, qualifications orHospice providers in our area, please contact the Director of Nursing for more resources.
Heidi Lohre RN
Blessings, little and large Make each day beautiful Being such we do our duty To conceive, to grow without being snooty
Of course there is grace for what we eat For all, but we are discrete For shoes to wear on our feet For a crossword puzzle when complete
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A place for a picnic lunch A restaurant for brunch A park bench to set upon this day To pass the time away
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In astrology, those born between January 1–19 are Capricorn’s Goats. Goats are focused on lofty goals; these hardworking souls prevail with grit and resilience. Those born between January 20–31 are Water Bearers of Aquarius. Water Bearers are deep-thinking intellectuals, unafraid of exploring new ideas.
Betsy Ross (folk hero) – January 1, 1752
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