Choosing Hospice Care: Seven Things You Need to Know
Hospice care focuses on the quality of life rather than its length. Hospice services are used when a person can no longer be helped by curative treatments and is expected to live about six months or less. It provides humane and compassionate care for people in the last phases of life limiting illness so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible.
Hospice gives palliative care, which is treatment for symptom management and pain, rather than attempting to cure the disease. The hospice philosophy accepts death as the final stage of life: it treats the person rather than the illness, so that a person’s last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones. If you or a loved one are facing a terminal illness, or you are seeking to learn more about hospice programs for the future, here are some important things to know about these invaluable services.
1. All hospices are not the same. With an increasing number of hospice programs available, you might be thinking that they all provide the same level and quality of care. While Medicare mandates minimum requirements for every hospice program, hospice providers offer these services in unique ways. Some provide only the basic services required, while others significantly exceed them. Here are a few characteristics that you should look for in a quality hospice program:
- High satisfaction rating from families who have used the service
- High level of staff certification
- Longevity of providing care
- Availability of inpatient hospice care
- Caregiver support offerings
- Bereavement services for family members
- · Response times for crisis situations
- · Joint Commission Accreditation
2. Hospice doesn’t mean giving up. Sometimes the doctor, patient, or family members will resist hospice because they think it means throwing in the towel or that there’s no hope. This is not accurate. Patients may leave hospice at any time they choose. However, the hope that hospice brings is a quality life, making the best of each day during the last stages of advanced illness.
3. 99% of hospice patients do not have any out-of-pocket expenses. Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans cover hospice 100%, including home visits, medications, supplies and equipment related to the terminal diagnosis.
4. Family meetings are an integral part of hospice services. Regularly scheduled meetings, often led by the hospice nurse or social worker, keep family members informed about the patient’s condition and what to expect. These meetings also give everyone a chance to share their feelings, ask questions, and learn about death and the process of dying. Family members can get great support and stress relief through these meetings. Daily updates may also be given informally during routine visits.
5. Care is coordinated and administered through a team approach. The hospice team coordinates and supervises all care 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. This team may include an inpatient facility, the hospice physician or primary care doctor, volunteers, and other community professionals, such as pharmacists, social workers, clergy, and funeral directors. Caregivers are encouraged to contact your hospice team if there is a problem at any time of the day or night.
6. Respite care is available for caregivers. Understanding the demand placed upon caregivers, hospice provides caregivers with a service known as ‘respite care’. Under respite care, a terminally-ill loved one can be temporarily checked in to a professional care facility, such as a hospital, hospice inpatient care facility, or nursing home for up to five days at a time. This allows the caregiver to get some much needed rest and time away from the rigorous demands of daily caregiving.
7. Hospice workers also provide bereavement care. The hospice care team works with surviving loved ones to help them through the grieving process. A trained volunteer, clergy member, or professional counselor provides support to survivors through visits, phone calls, and/or other contact, as well as through support groups. The hospice team can refer family members and caregiving friends to other medical or professional care if needed. These services are often provided for about a year after the patient’s death.
At the center of hospice and palliative care is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity. Choosing to elect hospice care is an important decision that can greatly benefit the quality of life for a person with a life-limiting illness, in addition to proving support to the family during a stressful and difficult time. If you or a loved one has questions about hospice or if you need assistance locating quality hospice care, please reach out to one our compassionate funeral directors.
About Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services: As a leading African American-owned and operated funeral and cremation organization serving three states, Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to thousands of grieving families. We promise to provide our highest level of distinguished service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. In all aspects of the funeral process, we strive to be the absolute best and are honored to help preserve our clients’ legacies for future generations. For more information, please call us at 215-549-4700 or visit our website.