Celebrating Hospice Care
In our last blog post, we talked about planning ahead for end-of-life care. Part of end-of-life planning includes whether you want to pursue curative treatments throughout an illness or want to pursue palliative or hospice care as the time for death approaches.
Barbara Bush passed away on April 17 of this year. Shortly before her death, she made it known that she would stop seeking curative treatment and receive “comfort care” at home. Her decision has sparked a national conversation about our choices as we near the end of life. Even today, with thousands of families embracing it, there is often a resistance to providing a loved one with hospice care, because to many, it is a sign that they are “giving up.” In truth, hospice care is a compassionate response to someone who is terminally ill and living in pain.
The goal of hospice is to provide palliative care, which is an approach that is aimed at improving a patient’s quality of life by treating pain and managing other symptoms. People receiving hospice care have opted to no longer receive curative treatments and, instead, are focused on creating a time of comfort and dignity.
When is the right time for hospice care?
Many families report that they wish they had chosen hospice treatment earlier. Studies have shown that choosing hospice earlier makes things easier on patients with a life-limiting condition, and on families as well. For example, the American Cancer Society believes that hospice services can be most effective and supportive if the patient and family have a minimum of 30 days of hospice care. When considering whether it is time to choose hospice, it’s important to know that the hospice emphasis doesn’t mean abandoning hope. Rather, hospice means a positive choice for quality of life and living each day to the fullest during the final stages of life. If a patient specifically requests hospice care, their wishes should be honored.
Selecting hospice care earlier also lessens the difficulty and stress of making an important decision at a time of crisis. It can make a critical difference in how a person comes to terms with dying, and can give patients and families the time they need to prepare themselves for the loss of a loved one. It also means there is time for important discussions about advance directives and other healthcare decisions, while the patient is still able to speak on his or her behalf and make his wishes known.
Hospice brings comprehensive services
Hospice care can occur in a hospital, hospice center, skilled nursing center or at home. Hospice services are very inclusive – the hospice team members include physicians, nurses, social workers, care aides, chaplains, volunteers and therapists. The hospice team works with patients to set up a plan of care that meets individual needs. Families receive support during the person’s illness as well.
Hospice and financial considerations
Hospice care is covered under Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance). Patients who are eligible for Medicare Part A can receive hospice care once the doctor or hospice medical director certifies that the patient is terminally ill and probably has less than six months to live.
Hospice care respects the individual
With hospice care, patients and their families can expect services that address their individual needs. Hospice care affirms life by providing the comfort that helps everyone involved experience death as a normal part of life.
Click play below to listen to our podcast on hospice care.
Family Home Health Network offers hospice care focused on quality of life, making the end of life an important time of living. The hospice care team’s mission is to help a person’s final days be a time of peace, comfort, and celebration. For information, call 866.320.3300.