When any family first hears about hospice and terminal illness, it’s always a difficult time. In these challenging moments, it’s important to know that hospice is a supportive and helpful option that places the focus on the quality of the life remaining rather than on dying.
The goal of hospice care is to maximize your loved one’s quality of life so he or she may live to the fullest while dealing with a serious and life-threatening condition. In order to receive hospice care, your loved one must have a life-limiting disease such as cancer, heart disease, stroke or end-stage Alzheimer’s, with a life expectancy of six months or less.
When your loved one is facing such a crisis, the family has important choices to make and tasks to handle. Hospice’s intention is to help make it possible for you to accomplish those things. That’s why the benefit of hospice care is greatest when you and your loved one begin receiving services early enough so you can get support with things like:
- Managing pain and symptoms
- Completing important tasks
- Organizing personal affairs
- Completing spiritual services
- Making memories with loved ones
With an early referral to hospice care, you and your loved one will gain a team of experts to help you understand what’s happening and how to prepare mentally, physically and spiritually for what’s ahead. If you think hospice may be right for your loved one and the physician has not yet brought it up, you can ask about the services.
Here is what to expect from hospice care:
- Once it’s been determined that hospice care is the right choice for your loved one, your physician will make a referral to Kindred Hospice.
- Next, a hospice representative will contact you and make an appointment to come to your home at your earliest convenience. This is usually a nurse who will perform an assessment of your current health condition and start the admission process, if appropriate.
- It’s a good idea to invite family members to the first meeting who will be part of your loved one’s support. The nurse will ask about medical history and will assess how you and your family are managing. Your nurse will also take time to help explain in more detail about your loved one’s condition, how it may change and what to do when things do change.
- After the initial discussion, the nurse will review medications and work with the family to establish services you will need. The nurse will take this time to explain any forms that need signatures and answer any remaining questions you and your family members may have.
- When care begins, hospice services vary depending on your loved one’s condition and the family’s needs. A typical weekly schedule is based on the plan of care from your attending physician, and the nurse will always let family know the approximate time of each visit. Other members of the care team will visit as needed. You can learn more about the care team in the sections below.
There are four levels of hospice care:
- Routine Home Care—provides custom care wherever your loved one calls home
- Respite Care—provided in a nursing facility or hospice inpatient unit and allows caregivers to rest or take personal time
- Inpatient Care—provided in a nursing facility, hospital or hospice inpatient unit and offers short-term crisis management of pain or symptoms that cannot be addressed at home
- Continuous Crisis Care—provided at home, in a nursing facility or assisted living facility and offers short-term crisis management such as nursing care to achieve relief of acute medical symptoms
Medicare pays 100% of the cost of hospice care for those who qualify. Medicaid and many private insurance plans will also cover hospice care, though benefits vary per policy and verification of benefits is required. People will be granted hospice regardless of their ability to pay.
Hospice care covers the following:
- Medical equipment related to the diagnosis, including delivery
- Prescriptions related to symptom management of the hospice illness
- Hospice aides provide baths and personal hygiene assistance
- Nurses are on call 24/7
- Emotional and spiritual support for the family
At Kindred, we provide an interdisciplinary care team that specializes in end-of-life care. Our patient-centered approach treats the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs you and your loved one may face. Your team may include:
- A medical director who works with your loved one’s attending physician to oversee pain and symptom management
- A nurse case manager who provides hands-on physical care to ease symptoms and provide comfort
- Hospice aides who provide both comfort and assistance with personal care such as bathing and grooming
- Hospice volunteers who provide companionship, run errands and help ease the family’s burden
- A spiritual care coordinator who can help with spiritual and bereavement needs
- A medical social worker who helps with end-of-life planning and provides links to community resources
If you think your loved one may be a candidate for hospice, don’t wait. Talk to your physician today to learn more about how hospice can provide the care, compassion and support you or your family needs.
To find out more about Kindred Hospice, visit our website.