Hospice is a special healthcare option for patients and families who are faced with a terminal illness. A multi-disciplinary team of physician, nurses, social workers, bereavement counselors and volunteers works together to address the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of each patient and family. The hospice team provides care to patients in their own home or a home-like setting regardless of the patient’s age or ability to pay. There are many things to consider when making a decision about hospice.
Hospice provides specialized care services (patient care including symptom management, emotional support, spiritual support and psychosocial intervention), addressing issues most important to the patient’s needs and wants at the end of their life focusing on improving the individual’s quality of life.
Time to consider hospice
Patients are eligible for hospice care when they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months or less. At that time comfort care and symptom management become the primary focus, and curative treatment is no longer the patient’s choice or option.
Time to call hospice
Hospice should be called at any time the patient has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. It is appropriate to discuss all of the patient’s care options, including hospice.
Hospice care is provided in a setting that best meets the needs of each patient and family. The most common setting is the patient’s home. Hospice care is also provided in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospitals according to patient care needs.
“Hospice” is a medical specialty like pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, etc. Each hospice is a different company. All hospices have the same general philosophy but their services may differ. Some hospices are for-profit corporations, while others are not-for-profit organizations. It is your right to request the hospice of your choice because we have several several serve the Lincoln area.
Hospice provides intermittent nursing visits to assess, monitor and treat symptoms, as well as teach family and caregivers the skills they need to care for the patient. Team members are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer questions or visit anytime the need for support arises.
Goal of Hospice
Their goal is always to alleviate suffering and manage symptoms. Hospice does nothing to speed up or slow down the dying process. Our role is to lend support and allow the disease process to unfold as comfortably as possible.
Hospice accepts patients who live alone. Part of the admission and ongoing care process, however, is to plan and prepare for the time in a patient’s illness when 24-hour-a-day care will be necessary.
Going off hospice
Receiving hospice care is always a choice. A patient may leave hospice and return to curative treatment if that is his/her choice. If the patient later chooses to return to hospice care, Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance companies permit re-activation of the hospice benefit.
Hospice and hospitalization
Many symptoms, however, that would normally require hospitalization or an emergency room visit can be successfully managed at home by the hospice team, thus preventing the stress of hospitalization. Hospice patients generally only have the need for short hospital stays to stabilize a symptom and then are able to return home.
Hospice is about living. Hospice strives to bring quality of life and comfort to a patient and his/her family. Our successes are in helping a patient and family live fully until the end. Often patients will feel better with good pain and symptom management. Hospice is an experience of care and support, different from any other type of care.
Hospice and not homebound patients
Hospice is about living fully. Patients should be encouraged to do what they enjoy as they are able. The hospice team assists patients and families in achieving their goals and dreams as much as possible.
Hospice and healing after a death
Bereavement Services should follow family and caregivers for a year following the patient’s death. These services may include personal visits, providing information concerning the grief process and offering periodic opportunities for group support. Bereavement Services provides information and referral to other area resources when needed.
LINCOLN AREA HOSPICE LINKS:
Hospice Community Care of Nebraska
Pathways to Compassion Hospice
St. Elizabeth Hospice