FAQs: Here is a list of our most frequently asked questions.
Hospice is the belief that each of us has a right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so. This is achieved through a team approach by providing the patient with medical care and pain management and the patient and family with emotional and spiritual support as the needed. Hospice focuses on caring, not curing. This is called palliative care.
Palliative care improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with life-threatening illness. Palliative care provides relief from pain and other symptoms, affirms life and regards dying as a normal process, does not hasten or postpone death, integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of care, offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death, offers support to the family to help cope during this difficult time, will enhance the quality of life, and may also improve the course of the illness.
Palliative care differs from curative care in that it is not intended to cure the disease. As a result, routine IV’s, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery would only be appropriate if the physician and the hospice staff determine these procedures in some way enhance the patient’s quality of life.
A patient may be admitted to hospice when their physician certifies that if the disease process runs its normal course, the patient has a life expectancy of six (6) months or less.
Any time during a patient’s illness is an appropriate time to discuss all options available, including hospice. By law, the decision belongs to the patient. Making the decision to move from curing to comfort can be a difficult decision for the patient and family. Caring and sensitive hospice staff members are available to discuss all concerns with everyone. They will work with the patient, family and physician to help make the best decision for all involved.
Anyone can make the call to hospice for services, including the patient, family, clergy, friends or healthcare provider. The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other healthcare professionals, clergy or friends. If the patient’s physician has not made a referral to hospice, the hospice staff will call the physician to get permission to admit the patient for them.
No. Hospice care is appropriate for anyone facing the advancing stages of any life-threatening illness; including but not limited to cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), end-stage heart, liver, kidney, lung disease, and severe birth defects.
Hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team of professionals including doctors, nurses, therapists, certified home health aides, social workers, clergy and volunteers working together to provide a full range of services. This team, along with the patient’s physician, works with the patient and family to develop an individual plan of care to manage the patient’s symptoms and meet the goals of the patient and family.
An interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, certified home health aides, clergy, therapists, and volunteers comprise the staff available to assist the patient in their needs. Each will provide care according to their area of expertise. In addition, hospice will help provide medications, supplies, equipment, and hospital services that are related to the life-limiting illness. The hospice can assist the patient and/or family in locating community resources for additional care and items not covered by hospice.
No. Although all hospices specialize in the care of life-limiting illnesses, the quality of care and extent of services can differ widely among hospice care providers. Many hospices are part of large, for-profit health care systems, while others operate as non-profit organizations. Seasons Hospice is an independent, non-profit, community health care provider.
Yes. Hospice provides four levels of care to ensure that the needs of patients and families are being met. The physician and hospice nurse MUST AUTHORIZE changes in level of care.
ROUTINE HOME CARE: Routine home care is provided by hospice in the patient’s place of residence. The care is delivered by a specially trained and compassionate staff of medical, spiritual and social work professionals and volunteers. Assistance with pain management, skilled nursing care, symptom management and activities of daily living are provided. The interdisciplinary hospice team coordinates care with the patient and family.
Most patients, with the assistance of the hospice team, are able to remain in their place of residence, whether it is a private home or nursing home for the duration of their illness. If the patient lives in a long-term care facility or nursing home, the care delivered is in addition to the normal nursing care provided by the facility and is covered by Medicare under a separate benefit. The care is coordinated by the interdisciplinary hospice team, nursing facility staff, the patient and the family.
RESPITE CARE: Respite care is available to the primary caregivers and family in need of rest from caring for the patient. There are several local nursing facilities, as well as private respite homes available for respite care. The patient is able to stay in one of the facilities or homes for up to five (5) days per episode, according to Medicare guidelines. Medicare covers respite care costs as part of the Hospice benefit. Ask your hospice team for more information regarding places that provide respite care.
CONTINUOUS CARE: If the patient’s symptoms are out of control or death is imminent, continuous care may be initiated. Continuous care is provided by the hospice team for several hours a day, up to 24 hours a day, until the crisis is resolved. The hospice nurse will assist in determining when continuous care is needed.
Some may feel that choosing hospice care signifies no hope or giving up. With the loss of good health, hopes change. Hope for survival may transform into hope for other goals…hope to live one’s remaining days free from pain…hope to spend time with loved ones…hope for a good night’s rest…hope for peace for loved ones. These are the hopes that patients can realize, with the help of Seasons Hospice.