What is hospice care, what to know?

Princeton,NJ/ 360prwire/ December 14/

At its core, hospice care aims to preserve patients’ quality of life. It also provides care and comfort for a dying person and their family members.

Even after the patient’s passing, hospice care may be continued to help the family members deal with the grief of losing a loved one. This aspect of hospice care is known as bereavement care.

I remember when my ex’s father was admitted in a nursing home in Oregon. A person from the hospice care team assisted us with making funeral plans days after her dad’s passing. The clinician connected us with the fastest casket provider in all of Oregon – Trusted Casket – and even came for the actual funeral proceedings.

Who needs hospice care?

It’s clear that people with serious illnesses – like a life-threatening dementia – are the ones in need of hospice care. However, the term ‘serious illness’ can sometimes be ambiguous.

So, to remove the ambiguity, we’re going to make a list of some common health conditions that may warrant putting a loved one in hospice care.

These are:

  1.       Cancer
  2.       Dementia
  3.       Lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD))
  4.       Stroke
  5.   Heart disease (cardiac disease such as congestive heart failure (CHF))
  6.   Kidney failure
  7.   Alzheimer’s
  8.   Parkinson’s
  9.   Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amongst others. In short, you become due for hospice care the moment your care provider believes the symptoms of your illness is so grave that you’re likely to die in the next 6 months or less.

Source

Who decides when to get hospice care?

Typically, people with serious illness enroll in hospice care after discontinuing treatment for their condition. Based on this fact, you can guess that the patient or their family members decide when to get hospice care.

But why would anyone want to discontinue treatments for their illness? 

v  When it’s clear that the treatment won’t cure the condition. Usually, it is the doctor who would tell you this.

OR

v  The treatment procedure, which does not appear to yield any positive results, has become too burdensome.

Benefits of hospice: why should you put your loved one in one?

When a patient is driven to a nursing home to receive hospice care, they and their family members will enjoy the following benefits.

v  Emotional and spiritual support

v  Relief of symptoms

v  Better quality of life for patients

v  Pain management

v  Advance care planning assistance

v  Bereavement care

v  Therapy services

v  Increased family satisfaction and better appreciation of life

Where does hospice care take place?

Unlike palliative care, a dying patient can receive hospice care at home or in a medical facility. Usually, most people prefer the ‘home’ option. Still, there are other interesting options like nursing homes, assisted living facilities, private establishments, medical facilities (e.g., hospitals).

Is hospice care a round-the-clock service?

Unfortunately, No. Although a nurse from the hospice team will be available via the phone 24/7, they’re not usually stationed at the site where you receive hospice care.

Do hospice care providers interfere in the end-of-life matters?

Expectedly, no one in the hospice care team will talk to you about how you need to distribute your will or handle your estates.

However, they can make suggestions on matters relating to funeral arrangements, memorials, casket purchasing, cremations, and all sorts. They do this because they know some families are ‘never ready’ to accept the fact that their loved one is passing. And they understand how difficult it can be to start making funeral arrangements after someone has died. So they advise you or help you make the difficult call.

Furthermore, a hospice chaplain can help the dying person’s family make important outreach or do vital research. Like where to buy caskets, how to find casket suppliers with price points that fit the family’s budget, how to go about cremation, etc.

For cases where the person dies at home, a hospice care provider can help make arrangements on how to transfer the body to the funeral home or get a casket supplier like Trusted Caskets to make an express delivery.

Questions to ask your doctor (care provider) before moving into hospice care

One of the similarities between hospice and palliative care is that both are done with the care provider’s consent. As such, here are some important questions you need to ask yourself before you enroll in a hospice.

  • Ok, you say my symptoms are terminal. Is it time to consider hospice care? Why or why not?
  • What care will I get in a hospice that your facility can’t provide?
  • Where do you recommend I receive hospice care?
  • Do you have any contacts?
  • Will you still be involved in my care when I enroll in a hospice service?

Whether or not they recommend a hospice service for you, here are some things you need to look out for when choosing a hospice provider.

How to choose a hospice provider

  1.       Check their history and reputation: how long have they been in business?
  2.       Check their certification and licensing: Most important licensing is Medicare.
  3.       Ask if they provide all four levels of mandatory hospice care: At-home care, up to 24 hours availability, inpatient hospice care, and up to 5 days of respite care for caregivers.

Hospice care and palliative care: How do they relate, and how are they different?

Hospice and palliative care are like Damon and Stefan Salvatore (Yikes, TVD fans). Wherever you find one, expect the other to follow.

That means, we cannot talk about hospice care and not mention the other end-of-life care, palliative care.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care refers to medical care designed for people living with serious illnesses. It is an end-of-life care that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms of life-threatening conditions. Like hospice care, the goal of palliative care is to help improve the quality of life of patients.

Be honest, that sounds a lot like hospice care, right? Wait till you hear the definition of end-of-life care, comfort care, and all that.

There’s little difference between these things. But, as you already know, ‘little difference’ in the world of healthcare can mean a lot.

Difference between palliative care and hospice care

Unlike hospice care aimed at people who have less than six months to live, palliative care is aimed at anyone suffering from a terminal illness.

In practice, you could enroll in a palliative care unit even in the early stages of your treatment.

For example, say you’re diagnosed with a life-threatening illness like cancer. Hospice care will come into the picture only when your doctor has declared all treatments as ineffective and has put a marker on the number of days/months you have left. In contrast, palliative care can begin on the very day of your diagnosis.

Why is palliative care given?

To provide an extra layer of support for the patient and their family members. Palliative care serves as an additional ‘support’ system for the curative treatment of the illness.

Who provides palliative care?

Another area where hospice and palliative care differ is in the aspect of caregiving.

Being an extra layer of support, palliative care is given by specially-trained doctors and nurses. Just like your regular care providers. In contrast, hospice care is provided by a team of hospice specialists and nurses.