What is hospice care?
When a loved one is in the last stage of a serious illness, such as heart failure or cancer, hospice care can provide medical services and emotional support through a truly difficult time. Hospice care can also help family member through a barrage of practical details and emotional challenges present when caring for a loved one who is dying.
When do you know it’s time to consider hospice care?
When usual medical treatments that have been designed to cure your disease have run their course, and a patient is considered to be incurable, then it may be time to consider hospice care. The goal of hospice treatment is to keep a patient comfortable and maintain a quality of life. Hospice care is not intended to speed up or prolong the process, but rather focuses on relieving pain and other symptoms.
Caregivers specializing in hospice care can greatly enhance the quality of remaining life by focusing on keeping a patient alert and as comfortable as possible. Depending on the particular situation, hospice care can be arranged in a hospice center, or preferable in the patient’s home where they can be more at ease in a comfortable and familiar setting. Many long-term care facilities, hospitals and nursing homes also offer hospice care.
What kind of services are provided?
Hospice services normally include:
- A basic level of medical care that focuses on symptom and pain control
- Coordination of necessary medical equipment and supplies
- Around-the-clock access to a hospice team member
- Guidance with normal issues of life closure
- Psychological, emotional, and spiritual support for family after a love one passes
Who is considered to be on the “hospice team”?
Team members usually include nurses, doctors, social workers, palliative medicine specialists, nursing assistants, trained volunteers and spiritual advisors. There is also a long list of available therapists including reparatory, physical, music and occupational that can add a great level of comfort to end-of-life care. And loved ones will often work closely with the hospice team to optimize the patient’s comfort and quality of life.
A majority of the time, hospice care will take place in a patient’s home. Under normal circumstances a loved one will look after the patient for much of the time. A hospice team member will most likely visit a couple of times a week, or daily as more care is needed.
The hospice team will make constant reports to the main physician so that he or she can stay involved with the patient’s care throughout the process.
Should there ever be an emergency, there will be a hospice number that can be called 24 hour a day, 7 days a week for advice. Nurses can usually go to the home at any time of day or night.
How does insurance eligibility work for hospice care?
Most hospice programs are based on two criteria:
- The patient’s condition is considered to be a terminal illness.
- A doctor has diagnosed a patient’s life expectancy is 6 months or less based on the illness running its normal course.
As predicting a specific amount of time a patient will live is far from an exact science, hospice care may need to continue, or may be terminated if desired. Payment for hospice is covered through Medicare and most Medicaid programs. Additional benefits may be available through other insurance coverage. Verifying your benefits with your insurance company well in advance will alleviate any confusion and paint a clear picture of what is covered.
Should you have any questions regarding hospice care, let the team from Horizon Care Services guide you to the best choice for your particular situation.