There is no doubt that the COVID-19 outbreak has affected hospice care patients and workers. Although the changes made have been necessary to keep patients safe, it has become more of a challenge to ensure patients get the medical, physical, emotional, and spiritual support they need.
For those who have a life expectancy of six months or less to live and are considering hospice during the pandemic, it is important to understand how workers are affected and what workers are doing to ensure their patients remain safe. The good news is that with the right precautions, hospice care workers can minimize the risk that COVID-19 presents so they can provide patients with peace of mind as they receive the treatment that they need.
The following is everything to know about how COVID-19 is affecting workers and patients, and what measures are being taken to ensure optimal safety between hospice patients and workers.
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care focuses on improving the quality of life and level of comfort for patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less. It is not intended to cure the patient’s condition, but rather, it provides palliative care to help them manage symptoms and deal with emotional stress. Hospice care looks different for each patient as each care plan is tailored for the patient and their family to meet their specific needs and preferences.
How COVID-19 is Affecting Workers
COVID-19 has made in-person visits between the hospice workers and patients less frequent. Hospice care workers are generally only visiting patients for necessary treatment.
Other services that are not absolutely essential may be reduced if the patient prefers. For example, hospice teams may transition patients from daily home cleaning to once a week to minimize their risk of exposure. Of course, each situation is unique and the hospice team and the patient can work on a plan that meets the preferences and needs of both parties.
Less Personal Connection
A decreased amount of personal connection is one of the main ways hospice care workers and patients are affected by COVID-19. Many hospice care professionals take pride in and enjoy working closely with patients in person. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has now limited workers to only offering the essential in-person services, and much communication takes place through telehealth.
Although the lack of in-person visits has certainly made it more challenging to create deep personal connections that workers and patients enjoy, many are finding ways to continue strong communication efforts through telehealth.
More Protective Gear
Personal protective equipment (PPE) has become more commonplace due to COVID-19. Protective gear plays an important role during the pandemic in ensuring hospice workers protect their hospice patients from the virus.
As mentioned, many services are moving to be provided through a telehealth platform. However, there are many services that must be provided in person. When hospice care workers must interact with patients, they will wear more protective gear. While this does keep patients safe, some patients may feel it affects their ability to connect with hospice care workers.
Barrier Between Patient and Nurse
One of the most special bonds created in hospice care is the bond between the hospice nurses and the patients. Nurses, perhaps more than any other hospice worker, work closely with patients on a regular basis, ensuring they have what they need for pain and symptom management and helping in a variety of other ways.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has placed a barrier between hospice care patients and nurses. Currently, hospice care nurses typically communicate through telecommunications applications rather than checking the patient’s condition in person. While this helps the patient’s overall safety from COVID-19, it can put a strain on the relationship between patients and nurses.
Diminished Visitations for Patients
One of the things hospice care patients value more than anything is spending time with loved ones. They cherish the opportunity to see the ones they love, and the COVID-19 outbreak has made it more challenging to visit with others in person, especially if the individual is in an inpatient facility.
The good news is that telecommunication offers a way for hospice patients to stay in contact with children, grandchildren, and other family members and friends. This also affects hospice care workers as they seek to help patients continue the interactions with others that they enjoy while ensuring safety from COVID-19.
Talk to The Professionals at Harbor Light Hospice
Harbor Light Hospice offers hospice care for patients who are nearing the end of life and are interested in palliative care. If you are interested in learning more about how hospice care can benefit you and your family, then reach out to our friendly team today for more information. In light of COVID-19, we are taking all necessary precautions and have tailored our care plans to meet the needs of our patients while protecting them from the risk of illness. Call us today to see how we can help you or your loved one through your illness.