What is Hospice?
Today, one out of three people in the United States die in the care of hospice. When faced with a life-limiting illness, patients and their families need to understand hospice and the steps necessary to access this quality end-of-life-option.
Hospice is a special concept and compassionate form of care that is designed to provide treatment, comfort and support for those who are facing a life-limiting illness. Patients are referred to hospice when life expectancy is approximately six months or less. Hospice care can continue longer than six months if needed. Your personal physician will set the direction for your care. Caring Hands Hospice offers a support system team of medical, social, psychological, and spiritual experts that promote dignity and affirms quality of life which allows the patient, family and other loved ones to make choices about what is important to them.
Hospice is a philosophy of care. The goal of hospice is to enable patients to continue an alert, pain-free life and to manage other symptoms so that their last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones. Hospice affirms life and does not hasten or postpone death. Hospice care treats the person rather than the disease; it focuses on quality rather than length of life. It provides family-centered care and involves the patient and the family in decision making. Care is provided for the patient and the family at any time needed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Hospice care at Caring Hands Hospice can be given in the patient’s home, independent living center, assisted living center, or a nursing home. Most hospice care in the United States is given in the home, with a family member or members serving as the main hands-on caregiver. While a nurse, doctor, and other professionals staff the home hospice program, the primary caregiver is the key team member. The primary caregiver is usually a family member or friend who is responsible for around-the-clock supervision of the patient. This person is with the patient most of the time and is trained by the nurse to provide much of the hands-on care. Members of the hospice staff will visit regularly and as needed to check on you and your family and give needed care and services.
Care begins when you are admitted to the program, which generally means that a hospice team member visits the home to learn about your situation and needs. Return visits are set up so that your needs can be re-evaluated regularly. To handle around-the-clock patient needs or crises, home hospice programs have an on-call nurse who answers phone calls day and night, makes home visits, or send the appropriate team member required to provide nursing, pharmacy, and doctor services around the clock.
Hospice care is suitable when you no longer benefit from active forms of treatment for your life-limiting disease. Hospice gives you comfort care and treatment to help relieve symptoms such as pain, anxiety, or agitation. You, your family, and your doctor decide together when hospice care should begin. One problem with Hospice is that it is often not started soon enough. Sometimes, the doctor, patient or family member will resist hospice because he or she feels it sends a message of no hope. This is not true. If your condition improves you can be discharged from hospice services. You also can go back to hospice care at a later time, if needed. The hope that hospice brings is the hope of a quality life, making the best of each day during the last stages of advanced illness.