Hospice Care and Compassion
Hospice is not a particular place; it’s a type of specialized care that supports patients and families who are dealing with a life-limiting illness. Hospice care focuses on a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patient’s pain and symptoms, and attends to their emotional and spiritual needs. Hospice focuses on caring, not curing and in most cases, provided in the patient’s home. There are also freestanding hospice centers, hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Typically, a family member serves as the primary caregiver and supported by a diverse team that may include physicians, nurses, social workers, aides, counselors, trained volunteers, chaplains, and speech, physical, and occupational therapists. Each team member lends their expertise in implementing a personal and comprehensive care plan that’s developed in cooperation with attending physicians and is mindful of each patient’s wishes.
Members of the hospice staff make regular visits to assess the patient and provide additional care or other related services and are generally on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hospice team develops a care plan that meets the patient’s individual needs for pain management and symptom control.
You and your loved one should consider hospice as early in your disease as possible – long before you may need the care. Understanding the hospice option gives you more control and more choices. If you live alone or require assistance with 24-hour care, you may need to consider a nursing home or other care alternatives to ensure you receive the ongoing care you need. Hospice staff members’ care; their compassion shows in all their actions.
Tailored services to an individual’s needs are:
- Nursing care
- Personal care
- Medical care
- Equipment and supplies
- Medication management
- Pain management
- Therapy services
- Regular visits plus 24/7; availability for questions and support needed
- Family and community grief support programs
- Respite care
- Emotional and spiritual support
- Dietary counseling
- Massage therapy
- Pet therapy and visitation
- Therapy, including physical, occupational and speech
- Encouragement and education
- Support in dealing with loss and grief
At this point, you may be wondering about the differences between hospice care and palliative care. They are, in fact, very similar when it comes to the actual care. Where palliative care programs and hospice care programs differ significantly is in the care location, timing, payment, and eligibility for services. Goals of Hospice are comfort and pain-free. Hospice nurses specialize in symptom management and pain. They work closely with you, your family and your physician to assure your comfort using medication, counseling and other therapies. In each instance, rest assured, you and you loved ones would receive the love, care and compassion you warrant.
Palliative care provides specialized medical attention to people with serious illness. This type of attention provides relief from symptoms and stress of serious illness. The goal is improving the quality of life for the patient and the family. Look for a future blog post to learn more about the specifics of palliative care.