According to the Hospice Foundation of America (HFA), hospice care is specialized medical care which is meant to assist people with terminal illnesses live as long as possible … and as well as possible.
This kind of care is provided by trained professionals who all work together in order to address the needs of patients near the end of their lives. This includes all a person’s needs, whether they are physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual.
Hospice care is not limited to the patient themselves, either. Since friends and family are such an important part of our lives, hospice care is for them too.
We all have needs — we all eat and we all sleep. So too are each of us born, and we will all pass on eventually.
Despite all this, and despite hospice being an essential service, there are still many myths and other misunderstood facts about it. It is not always right for every patient, true. But the only way to learn if you or your loved one might benefit from hospice care is by learning about what actually happens in hospice.
Read on to learn more about hospice care. We’ll also dispel some of the common myths that surround this important kind of healthcare.
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care focuses on people with serious illnesses, and who are near the end of their lives.
Hospice care seeks to provide greater care, more comfort, and an improved quality of life for its patients.
Even with as advanced as modern medicine is, it is not always able to cure a serious illness. Knowing this, some patients elect to not endure treatment after debilitating treatment, on the chance that one of these treatments might work.
Hospice care is designed for these circumstances. A patient who is starting hospice care recognizes that their illness is not responding to medical intervention.
Hospice care and palliative care are often confused. They are similar in that they both offer comprehensive comfort care for the patient as well as for their family. However, with hospice care, there is no longer any attempt to cure the illness.
Thus, hospice care is typically offered to people with terminal or other serious illnesses, and when doctors believe the patient has six months or less remaining to live, if the disease is allowed to run its natural course.
Still not sure? Even if you think hospice isn’t the right choice for you or your loved ones, it’s best to talk about options with your doctors as soon as possible. People sometimes don’t begin hospice care quickly enough, thereby rendering them unable to take full advantage of the benefit it offers.
Starting hospice care earlier, rather than later, means that your loved one may be able to enjoy meaningful care, and more quality time spent with loved ones.
Who Provides Hospice Care, and Where?
Hospice is more of an approach to medical care, and not a specific type of therapy. As such it is more of a modality that is not tied to a specific clinic or place.
To provide for the greatest care for the patient, hospice care is typically offered in the home or administered in a hospital or a nursing home.
Teams of people participate in hospice care. These teams have a diverse array of special skills, made up of spiritual advisors, social workers, doctors, nurses, and even trained volunteers. Each member of the team works together with the others to provide spiritual, medical, and emotional support for the dying, their caregivers, and their families.
Typically, members of the hospice team visit the patient regularly. Even if a visit is not taking place, someone is normally on-call, available by phone whenever the need arises.
Hospice care can be covered by Medicare. Other insurance companies cover it as well.
What are the Benefits of Hospice Care?
Compared with patients who didn’t use hospice care, those who are in a hospice program typically have their pain under control. They are also not as likely to be given medicine they don’t need, and also to undergo more tests that won’t reveal any new information.
Also, families of people who went through a hospice program are typically more content with the end-of-life care their loved one received, as opposed to those patients who did not receive hospice services.
Hospice Myth vs Fact
Myth: If I enroll in hospice, I will have to give up my primary care doctor.
Fact: When enrolled in hospice, a patient’s primary care doctor becomes more involved with care because the hospice team communicates with them on a regular basis about needs.
Myth: To get hospice care, I will have to leave my home for an inpatient facility.
Fact: Hospice is not a place, it is a concept of care. Most patients receive hospice services wherever they call home.
Myth: Hospice care is expensive and my family won’t be able to afford it.
Fact: Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurances. Hospice actually alleviates a financial burden because all medical needs are paid for through the hospice benefit.
Myth: Hospice care is just for people with a cancer diagnosis.
Fact: Hospice serves a variety of people and ages dealing with serious illnesses with a prognosis of six months or less to live. This can include: heart, lung, kidney and neuro muscular disease as well as a dementia diagnosis.
Myth: All hospice providers are pretty much the same.
Fact: Hospice providers are independent entities who can provide a range of services. In fact, consumer assessments of healthcare and hospice providers are available on medicare.gov.
Myth: If it’s time for hospice, my doctor will talk to me about it.
Fact: Many doctors wait for a patient ot bring up hospice, leading to a late enrollment. Families/patients often tell Kindful Hospice that they wish they had known about hospice sooner.