To the surprise of many people, hospice- a word often associated with death and dying- is really about quality of life. Hospice strives to honor an individual’s values, beliefs, and wishes until life’s journey ends. Whether due to unfavorable perceptions or inaccurate information, it is estimated that more than 50 percent of the people who may qualify for hospice never give it consideration. Hospice is a choice worth considering. And, by the way – it’s FREE.
Hospice care strives to provide comfort by minimizing suffering from pain and maximizing quality of life. It is an approach to caring for people who are terminally ill or have a life-limiting medical condition. When the normal course of an illness suggests that a person has a limited life expectancy and the eligibility criteria are met, hospice care becomes an option.
Hospice care can be provided at a private residence, a nursing home, a hospital or an inpatient hospice center. Upon referral by a physician, an individual is then eligible to receive hospice care for up to six months. If a person continues to receive hospice care beyond six months, a physician can re-certify the person’s condition and benefits continue.
Hospice care services include:
-Visits by nurses, home health aids, physicians, social workers, dieticians, physical therapists, a chaplain and more.
-Medications ordered by the patient’s physician that are specific to hospice care, including free delivery.
-Incidentals such as bandages and incontinence supplies directly related to hospice care.
-Durable medical equipment (e.g. hospital bed, wheelchair, walker).
-Bereavement services for family members for a 13-month period following death.
A home health aide and a nurse/case manager are the two hospice representatives who visit most often, typically for an hour or two a few times a week. The primary purpose of their visits is to assess a person’s condition, address his or her personal care needs, and assess the needs of the patient and family. As a person’s condition worsens and death becomes imminent, hospice staff increases the frequency and duration of their visits.
In addition to Hospice care, a person may also receive supplemental caregiving support for routine and ongoing care. Caregiving support is often provided by family members and friends (informal caregivers) or by an organization specializing in companion and personal care services, such as Home Helpers (formal caregivers). Many families opt to hire a formal caregiver as they find the day-to-day care of a loved one is more than they are able to handle- physically and emotionally, especially during the final months of life.
For more information on hospice, visit the following websites:
-Hospice Association of America www.hospice-america.org
-Hospice Foundation of America www.hospicefoundation.org
-National Association for Home Care & Hospice www.nahc.org
-National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization www.nhpco.org or www.nho.org
Home Helpers can provide routine and ongoing daily care and companionship, or overnight care and companionship. For more information, please click HERE.