What to Know Before a Loved One Begins Hospice

When you find out a loved one is about to enter hospice, you’re likely to have several thoughts and questions. You might worry that beginning hospice means your loved one is giving up their fight and is ready to accept death. You might worry the care they’ll receive will be lower quality than the care they’d receive in the hospital or while undergoing medical treatment.

It’s natural to have concerns about any such major change. Getting as much hospice care information as you can before your relative or friend begins a program can help you understand what to expect and how to make the experience as positive as possible.

What is hospice?

The goal of hospice care is to help a person maintain a high quality of life. Hospice is sometimes called end-of-life care, as it is usually an option for people who have a terminal illness. While medical treatments focus on potentially curing a person, the focus of hospice is on providing care to help them be as comfortable as possible.

Hospice providers typically take a holistic approach, meaning that the care your loved one will receive won’t only focus on one area, such as pain management. Instead, you can expect attention to be given to your loved one’s social needs and financial concerns as well as to any wounds, catheters, and other physical issues.

Families also receive attention and care as part of hospice. A hospice program will likely include an educational component to help you prepare for a loved one’s end-of-life, and that can give you information on practical matters that usually arise. Social workers and therapists can also provide emotional support to family members who have a loved one on hospice or who have recently lost a loved one.

Who provides hospice care?

Hospice is an interdisciplinary approach to end-of-life care. Usually, a person on hospice has an entire team working with them to help maintain their quality of life. Typically, a member of the person’s family serves as the primary caregiver. The primary caregiver might also have the responsibility of making important decisions.

Other members of a person’s hospice team include:

● Doctors

● Nurses

● Social workers

● Speech, occupational, or physical therapists

● Chaplains or bereavement counselors

● Hospice home health aides

● Volunteers

Once your loved one is on hospice, a member of their team will be available 24 hours a day.

Hospice care tips: Your loved one’s options

Several types of hospice care are available. There are four levels:

●Routine home care

● Continuous home care

● Respite care

● Inpatient care

Some people prefer to remain at home or to return home at the end of their lives. Routine home care means that nurses and home health aides visit a person frequently but don’t remain by their side 24/7. A person who’s receiving routine home care can see their friends and relatives whenever they would like. During routine home care, a friend or relative acts as a person’s primary caregiver and gets support from professional nurses or home health aides.

Another option is for your loved one to return or remain home for hospice care but have a professional providing care to them more frequently. Continuous home care means that a nurse is with the person from eight to 24 hours a day when symptoms are out of control.

Even if a person decides to remain home for care, challenging situations may come up and require a need to go into the hospital or another inpatient facility. The third type of hospice care is respite care. A person will go to a hospital to receive short-term care, up to 5 days once per month. Someone on hospice might go on respite care if their primary caregiver isn’t available for a short period, or is experiencing caregiver fatigue.

The fourth type of hospice care is general inpatient care. A person might need to go to a hospital or other hospice setting for inpatient care when their symptoms become too much to manage in their home.

Should your loved one stay home?

Hospice care is designed to provide end of life care in the home, as that is where most patients prefer to be. A caregiver should be able to support their loved one continuously. The hospice team is not intended to take the place of family but rather to support them in caring for their loved one. The role can be both physically and emotionally challenging. It might mean that a caregiver needs to cut back on their work hours and utilize Family Medical Leave of Absence. It also might mean the utilization of respite care. While it can be challenging it can often be very rewarding.

How do you pay for hospice?

Hospice can be covered by either Medicare or Medicaid, and both programs will typically pay for the full amount of care. Private insurance can also provide coverage if a person has it. You shouldn’t let concerns about the cost of hospice care keep your loved one from going on it. Reid Hospice provides care to all patients, even to those who can’t pay.

While hospice care is typically recommended to people with a terminal illness and a life expectancy of fewer than six months, beginning hospice care doesn’t necessarily mean a patient has given up or that their life is over.

Some people go on hospice, then decide to return to a medical treatment later on. Although it doesn’t happen often, some people also get better while on hospice and return to their regular lives.

Reid Health has been serving the area for more than 100 years. Our hospice program is open to anyone who is terminally ill and who wants to maintain a high quality of life. Contact us today to learn more about Reid Hospice and how we can work with you, your loved one, and your loved one’s doctor to provide the highest quality end-of-life care.

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