For seriously ill patients, hospice offers a more comfortable and dignified alternative to spending their remaining months in a hospital room. Hospice will improve the quality of life for both the patient and his or her family; additionally, palliative care is often used to help manage the patient's pain.
What Is Hospice?
Death is a natural part of life. For many, the thought of death is a frightening one. For some, death brings thoughts of loneliness and pain, being kept away from all that they know and love as they lie in a hospital bed. Hospice is the compassionate approach to the end of life. The goal of hospice is to enable the patient to live as comfortably and fully as they can before death.
Traditionally hospice has been an option for patients who have a life expectancy of sixmonths or less. The care typically involves palliative care, or symptom and pain relief instead of curative measures, typically because treatment options have been exhausted, or would significantly reduce quality of life. This allows the patient to live their remaining days with dignity, support, and grace. There are some nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care facilities that offer onsite hospice care. Hospice care is typically done in the home of the patient, which is a more comfortable environment for the patient and their family.
How Palliative Care And Hospice Work
There is more to the patient dealing with a terminal illness than the illness. Hospice care focuses on all aspects of the patient’s life including:
- Physical well being
- Social well being
- Emotional well being
- Spiritual well being
Hospice is available to anyone, regardless of age, who is in the end stages of life. Hospice services are offered all over the world and specific services will vary based on location; most all will include an interdisciplinary team (IDT) composed of:
- Patient’s doctor
- Hospice doctor
- Social worker
- Case Manager
- Registered Nurse and Licensed Practical Nurses
- Other Trained Volunteers
The goal of the IDT is to develop a care plan that is tailored to the individual needs of the patient. It will address pain management and symptom relief. It will provide for all required palliative therapies and medications, medical supplies, and equipment.
The hospice staff is on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The IDT team members make visits on a regular basis to assess the patient, make adjustments to the care plan, and provide additional services and care including;
- Physical Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- Therapeutic Massage
- Dietary Assistance
- Bathing Assistance/ Personal Care Services performed by Certified Home Health Aids
Based on the beliefs, needs, and wishes of the patient, the IDT can and will also provide spiritual and emotional support. The IDT team will also provide these services to the family of the patient as well as grief counseling.
End of life can be an emotionally challenging stage for both the patient and family; hospice is there to help guide you through it.