Hospice care incorporates a team-oriented approach that uses multiple different types of professionals to provide medical care, pain management, symptom management, and emotional and mental support. Often times a hospice team consists of physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual aids, home aids, counselors, volunteers, etc. Hospice support is not only for the person afflicted by the life-limiting illness but also for the family around them having to cope with their loved one who is in need of specialized care. Hospice will help provide medications, medical equipment and supplies, along with hospital and other services. The goal of hospice is to allow a patient to live out their end of life pain-free and with dignity, while also providing the family any support they may need.
Hospice Care Referral
Often times people are misinformed and believe that hospice care must be suggested or referred to by a healthcare provider. However, it doesn’t just have to start with the referral of a physician. The patient and family members can also “self-refer” themselves to request an evaluation. Once you have requested care for your loved one, the hospice team will contact your doctors to determine whether hospice is appropriate or not. You can also begin the process by bringing up the idea to the patient’s doctor, and if they believe hospice care is suitable, then they will provide a referral.
Following a referral or “self-refer”, a hospice care provider will typically visit the patient within 48 hours. Hospice care is usually introduced when the patient is expected to live 6 months or less according to the usual course of the illness. Sometimes, people are hesitant to begin hospice because they see it as “giving up”, but hospice is not binding, and the patient can choose to step away and seek another active treatment at any time. Ultimately, the final decision on whether to receive hospice care is made by the patient.
Talking To Your Loved One
Beginning the conversation about hospice care can be very daunting because you never want your loved one to feel like you’ve given up on them. You should be well informed of what it is and what it entails to help your loved one make the decision. Being educated, patient, and having empathy are some of the best ways you can approach your loved one about hospice care.
How To Approach Your Loved One
If you are approaching your loved one about receiving hospice care, you may feel intimidated or confused about how to navigate an end-of-life situation. The best thing you can do is approach them with good intentions and let them know you sincerely want to them to have the best quality of life possible. If possible, you should bring up the idea of hospice care earlier rather than later to ensure they are well taken care of and comfortable during this difficult time. It’s always important to remember that it is ultimately their choice, and you should respect their decision no matter what it is. However, there are some ways you can gently convince them to accept it.
Easing Your Loved One’s Worry
If you loved one is worried that accepting hospice is like giving up on life, be sure to inform them that they can opt out at any time and begin curative treatment again. It may be beneficial to ask them what they think will happen if they commit to hospice care too soon. If at any point in time they show progress or stabilize, they can simply refrain from continuing. You can also help them accept hospice care by pointing out that it not only supports them, but it supports all of the significant people in their lives. Hospice care seeks to help the patient and the family accept what is happening, and still offers support even after the patient has passed. Many patients find great comfort in this.
Receiving Financial Aid
Your loved one may also be hesitant due to the cost of hospice services, but you can let them know that there are many ways to receive financial aid. Financial coverage is widely available for those receiving hospice care. Medicare and Medicaid both offer some financial coverage, along with many private health insurance policies as well. Hospice professionals can help families determine their coverage options, and may also provide ways to assist with the financial aspect of care.
Beginning Hospice Care
The hospice team will contact your loved one to set up a consultation meeting where they can discuss the various options of hospice care they can provide. The patient has the ultimate decision on whether or not to accept the care, and what kind of care they feel is best for them. Once an agreement has been made, consent forms and paperwork must be created and signed. This process usually moves very quickly and many receive hospice care within 24-28 hours of the initial referral. It is also possible for care to begin sooner if the situation is dire.
Contact Harbor Light Hospice
Reach out to Harbor Light Hospice for more information. We provide compassionate hospice care services to enhance a patient’s, and their family’s quality of life when struggling with a life limiting illness. Our mission is to alleviate symptoms, fear, anxiety and stress so that a patient’s end-of-life is as joyous and meaningful as possible.