Hospice care continues to gain greater acceptance as a proven approach to help improve pain and symptom management and quality of life, in a variety of settings, wherever a person calls home. Unfortunately, many people still don’t receive care soon enough to make a significant difference in the last few months or weeks of their lives.

The benefits of hospice care are greatest when people receive services early enough in a terminal diagnosis and address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs for the individual and their loved ones to make the most of every moment. This includes  pain management, help managing medication and supplies and equipment that are related to their diagnosis.

Despite the clear benefits and advantages of hospice care, statistics show that it is still underutilized and often not initiated until a person is close to the end of their life even though Medicare and most private insurance cover the benefit.  

Image of hospice nurse checking the blood pressure of her female patient

“This is a communication issue, not a need issue," said Dr. R. Sean Morrison, chair of the department of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Cedars Sinai in New York City. "Millions of Americans could benefit a great deal from hospice. People have actually paid for this benefit all of their lives, so they should access it as much as they can. And not just at the very end, but as early as possible, when they can still gain many months of social support, practical support, and expert care and service."

Health experts recommend that even if your loved one’s physician has not approached the discussion of hospice care, you can ask for a referral for hospice care, as long as the condition has been determined to be end-stage with a six-month or less prognosis.

When hospice care is offered early enough it enables the following for patients:

  • Maintain independence and take control of their illness or disease
  • Complete important tasks
  • Organize their personal affairs
  • Complete spiritual services
  • Say goodbye to loved ones

In addition to receiving hospice care in a healthcare facility, home hospice care is also a very desirable alternative that allows people to remain in a comfortable and familiar setting.

Kindred Hospice provides compassionate care tailored for each individual and their loved ones, including:

  • Physician services
  • Nursing care
  • Therapies and other counseling services
  • Spiritual care
  • Bereavement services for up to 13 months after a loss
  • Care for the patient and the family from social workers, hospice aides and volunteers

All medications, equipment and supplies related to each patient’s terminal illness are provided and levels of care are adjusted to each individual in any of the following settings:

  • Routine home care, which is the most common, is the care provided at home or in a nursing facility on a regular basis
  • Respite care is a temporary stay in an inpatient facility when loved ones need to take a break for any reason, and is limited to five consecutive days at a time
  • Continuous care is beneficial during periods of crisis where a person requires continuous nursing care for pain and symptom management
  • General inpatient is offered when a person’s pain or symptoms are unable to be treated in another setting and require a stay in a facility to receive the appropriate medication, treatment or emotional support needed

Hospice care is considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care for those who are facing a terminal illness or injury. Care is provided by a team of skilled professionals that address every aspect of a person’s well-being.

If you’d like to learn more about hospice care, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

Sources: R. Sean Morrison, M.D., chair, department of geriatrics and palliative medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City; Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, September 12, 2017; National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, www.nhcpo.org
By Mel Bearns