November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to recognize those who care for our patients at the end of life’s journey. Kindred’s hospice program utilizes a team approach that includes nurses who provide case management and hands-on care, home health aides who help patients with activities of daily living, social workers who help with community resource needs and social support, and spiritual care coordinators who support the patient and family through prayer and other types of spiritual support. “We also have volunteers who visit with patients and sometimes provide respite for family members,” says Kristina Basicker, Director of Operations, PeopleFirst Home Care & Hospice.

Hospice: Providing Physical and Spiritual Care Through a Team Approach In addition to human resources, there are other benefits to hospice, as well. “Hospice is covered 100 percent by Medicare and Medicaid,” says Basicker. “We pay for any medications that are associated with the patient’s diagnosis, and also for any durable medical equipment the patient may need. This can be a huge benefit because patients and families are often struggling with those costs.”

Many people are hesitant to accept hospice assistance due to the requirement that the patient must have been given a prognosis of six months or less in order to be accepted to the program. “Even though that’s a requirement, we do occasionally discharge patients who begin to thrive with the extra care we provide,” Basicker says. “However, most of our patients are at the end of their life, and most would prefer to be at home when they die. We can help make that happen.”

Hospice workers not only care for the patient, but also for the family. “We help families with the emotional aspects of losing a loved one, and also with funeral planning and applying for any benefits to which they may be entitled,” Basicker says. “We also have a bereavement program to support the family through the first year after the patient’s death.”