Thursday, December 26, 2013

Making Choices About Hospice

Making Choices About Hospice
What is hospice?
Hospice is a special healthcare option for patients and families faced with a terminal illness.
Hospice care is for patients who have a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months or less; those who are no longer receiving curative treatment; have a focus on pain and symptom management with the goal of enhancing the quality of life.

Hospice is a team that takes many people to meet the unique needs of each patient, including the patient, the family, physicians, nurses, hospice aides, social workers, counselors, and trained volunteers.

Why choose hospice care?
Hospice specializes in control of pain and other symptoms so patients and families can focus on making the most of the time they have left together. When a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness, family and friends share their illness. Counselors can assist patients and families, with not only the physical pain and symptoms, but emotional and spiritual needs too.
Not all hospices are the same. All hospices have a set of guidelines and regulations to follow, but beyond those each hospice, just like a doctor’s office or pharmacy, have specific services and programs to better assist their patients and families to provide them with the individualized care they deserve.

Who pays for hospice?
Hospice is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance company’s. Some hospices have programs or accept donations or memorials to help provide care regardless of ability to pay.

Where is hospice care provided?
Hospice care is provided in the setting that best meets the need of the patient and family. People often think hospice is a place; actually, hospice is a service that comes to the patient and is provided in the home or home-like setting, including Private Home, Home Care, Nursing Home Care, Assisted Living, Hospice Home (like Relais Bonne Eau), or Inpatient Hospital Care.

When is it time to call hospice?
The best time to learn about hospice is before it is needed. Understanding the healthcare options, the hospice process, and end-of-life journey before it happens can relive lots of anxiety and stress that can be associated with death. Most hospices provide educational presentations or will meet with no obligation to answer any questions individuals have.

Making a referral is appropriate when the patient has a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months or less, wants comfort care rather than curative treatment, or curative treatment is no longer the choice or option of the patient. Hospice is a service provided to individuals with many diagnoses. Cancer patients are most known to call hospice, but hospice care can benefit those dealing with all end-stage diseases, including heart disease, lung disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke, AIDS, and others. Referrals to hospice can be made by physicians, social workers, discharge planners, nursing home employees, family members, friends, clergy, and patients.

Too often referrals are not made until the patient has uncontrolled symptoms or is near death. Although hospice can do much to assist at this time, the patient and family can benefit more if hospice is called early in the end-of-life journey. No one has to die alone. Hospice of Southern Illinois can help. Call 1-800-233-1708 to speak with a member of our team to talk about any questions concerning hospice care, our expertise since 1981. 

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