Thursday, June 23, 2011

The W's of Hospice

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) is the largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. The organization is committed to improving end-of-life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for people dying in America and their loved ones (  
According to the NHPCO, there are 4,700 hospice organizations that have touched the lives of 1.4 million patients in the United States (2008). With that many hospices, where does one go to get information; how does one decide which hospice to choose; and when should one start looking for this information? These are all great questions, and now you will know!

Who makes hospice referrals?
            Patients, family members, physicians, social workers, discharge planners, and nurses can make referrals. Anyone can make a hospice referral, however, there is one stipulation. A physician must certify that the patient is a hospice candidate.
What is hospice?
Hospice is a special healthcare option for patients and families who are faced with a terminal illness and are focused on pain control and symptom management rather than curative treatment. Hospice exists to affirm life by providing support and care of those in the last phases of incurable disease so that they can live as fully and comfortably as possible.
When is someone ready for hospice?
            Hospice is for patients with a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months or less. Comfort care, pain control and symptom management become the primary focus, and curative treatment is no longer the patient’s choice or option.
Where is hospice care provided?
            Hospice care is provided in the home, nursing home facility, assisted living facility, hospital or other home-like setting as warranted by the patient’s needs. To find a hospice in your area, visit the NHPCO’s website
Why would anyone want hospice?
            People want hospice to improve the quality of their life. Those who choose hospice care make their healthcare decisions known, want to participate in their plan of care, and want support for themselves and loved ones by specialized hospice healthcare providers. 
How does hospice work?
            Each hospice has their own style of working with patients and families. Although all are different, one goal remains the same, improving the quality of life and providing quality care for a patient. Upon admission, healthcare professionals from the hospice organization will schedule visits with you or your loved one based on the level of care required.

It is important to do research when choosing a hospice that will be the best fit for you or your loved one. This can be done several ways: making phone calls, asking questions, interviewing, and searching the internet. I encourage you to interview several hospice organization candidates when a terminal illness or the topic of hospice enters your life. It is your right and responsibility to get the information you deserve to know. Ask friends, co-workers, related businesses and acquaintances about their experiences because more times than not, they will be able to point you in a direction they trust.
Finally, I would like to close with making sure readers know to learn about and make as many decisions before crisis strikes. Making decisions now is the best time and way to ensure peace of mind later. Please contact me or Hospice of Southern Illinois with any hospice questions you have at 618.235.1703. We will be happy to take the time to get your questions answered. Remember, life is about how you live!

Help us share, educate, and reach out by subscribing to our blog and suggesting it to friends who will spread our message, Hospice of Southern Illinois is here to teach you what hospice is, what we are about, and what we can do for you! No one has to go through the dying process alone. Hospice can help!

Live well, laugh often, and love much,
Christine Juehne
Hospice of Southern Illinois
Community Education

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My name is Christine Juehne, and I have worked as a community educator for four years at Hospice of Southern Illinois, a member of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). I will be your hospice guru answering questions, covering stories, and informing you about all hospice topics. I welcome you to our blog! Follow our journey to stay committed to our mission, enhance the quality of life for individuals and their loved ones touched by a terminal illness! If you have further questions about Hospice of Southern Illinois or general hospice questions please feel free to call 618-235-1703 or e-mail me at!

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