Families of a terminally ill patient aren’t always aware of the treatment options at hand. While recurrent hospitalizations are likely to be commonplace for treating symptoms related to terminal conditions, there are alternatives to acute care, namely hospice care.
Hospice care differs significantly from hospitalization, with the main difference being hospice care emphasis is on providing support for terminally ill patients while hospitalization focuses on treating any and all conditions with the goal of making a full recovery.
What Does Hospice Care Entail?
The main goal of hospice care is offering medical and emotional care for those preparing for the end of life. This is provided by a range of people, including health care professionals, the family and friends of the patient, along with hospice volunteers.
It’s all about making the patient feel as comfortable and peaceful as possible before they pass, so a lot of the care provided is emotional and psychological, being offered to both the patient and their family. Medical care is mostly used to reduce pain as best they can.
Hospice care can be provided in a variety of settings, including hospice centers or at the patient’s home, and in the latter case most of the care is provided by home hospice providers and family members.
Tips for Preparing for Hospice Care
How to Start the Process
Hospice can be considered an option for anyone with terminal illness or less than six months to live, but making the final decision will obviously take some time and consideration. Once ready to begin hospice care, arrange for a visit from any prospective hospices, who should send out a representative to visit the patient.
In truth, different people may recommend hospice care. Heath care professionals working at the hospital are the most likely to suggest this and take the necessary steps, as are staff from the nursing home or assisted living facility should the patient stay here, but you can make the inquiry yourself.
Visits from hospice representatives should be free of charge, and you don’t need to commit to any provider, so you or your loved one should feel under no pressure to make a decision until you are ready.
Know Their Wishes
One of the most important preparations for hospice care is knowing exactly what the patient wants from their care. Making a plan for their expectations of end-of-life care will make it easier for family and friends to make necessary decisions.
It’s a good idea to have these plans drafted in advance of hospice care to ensure they can be best fulfilled, and it may be a good idea to involve the patient’s doctor or nurse for advice.
Choosing a Care Option
Hospice care doesn’t have to occur at a specialist facility, as it can easily be provided from home. Care will be mostly provided by primary caregivers of the family when done at home, although this is supplemented by health care professionals, and often volunteers as well.
Receiving palliative care directly from hospice will focus primarily on providing emotional and physical comfort. This applies to both the patient and their family, which can often ease the emotional burden associated with end-of-life care.
Nurses and doctors are on-hand with hospice, and the setting is much more personalized than you would find at a hospital.
Deciding on a care option will depend on personal circumstances. Oftentimes home care is the preferred choice over a hospice facility, as it offers a familiar and comfortable setting for both the patient and family. The conveniences provided truly ease the burden on family/caregivers.