If your loved one has a terminal illness and has been given a diagnosis of six months or less to live, you may be considering enlisting the help of hospice to care for them during their final months, weeks or days.
Many families who choose this path later report that they wish they had called hospice sooner into their loved one’s terminal diagnosis. Getting help right away can have a big impact on your loved one’s quality of life.
If they are experiencing frequent emergency room visits, changes in mental abilities, a decline in their ability to perform daily tasks, frequent falls or infections and other signs of rapidly deteriorating health, it may be time to consider hospice.
Hospice is a valuable resource during this time, but it is important to understand the services provided as well as the eligibility criteria and admissions process so you can make sure your loved one is able to get the care they need as soon as possible.
If a doctor agrees that a person is eligible for hospice, they may recommend a hospice provider or give you a list of options that you can choose from. You may also ask friends and family about their experience with local hospice providers. If the patient’s doctor does not believe hospice is the right choice yet, you may choose to contact a hospice directly for assistance with a referral.
When you first reach out to the hospice, they will ask about your loved one’s condition as well as their medical care team. After receiving permission from the patient to discuss their health with their doctor, the hospice will contact their physician to discuss their hospice eligibility and prognosis. It is important for the patient to know that they cannot start receiving hospice care without a physician’s order.
Hospice services are often covered by Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance policy. Care will be given wherever your loved one is calling home, whether they are still in their own house, living with you or another family caregiver, or living in a long-term care facility or retirement community.
Depending on the patient’s needs, the team will visit anywhere from once a day to several times per month.
A hospice nurse will visit your loved one to perform an assessment, during which they will learn more about the patient and their needs. They will evaluate their need for symptom and pain management and provide counseling on end-of-life issues and options for care. They may also be able to advise on advance care planning during this visit.
It also provides you with a chance to learn more about the type of services and care that hospice offers. To prepare for this visit, it is useful to have your loved one’s insurance and Medicare or Medicaid cards; any health care directives they may have, such as Do Not Resuscitate orders; and a list of the medications they take along with their dosages.
Consent forms will be signed during this visit if your loved one is eligible to begin hospice care now, and you will also create a care plan to ensure their specific needs will be met. The forms request details such as contact information, insurance information and a confirmation that your loved one understands what hospice does and how it works. You will also receive documentation of patient protections and rights.
After the hospice consent forms have been signed, the patient’s care will officially begin. They will receive regular visits from nurses, hospice aides, chaplains, volunteers and social workers throughout their time in hospice. Each of these individuals plays a unique role in supporting your loved one on a physical, spiritual and emotional basis.
Hospice also provides your loved one with any medical equipment or supplies they need related to their hospice diagnosis. This might include things like hospital beds or oxygen. These materials and equipment are delivered to the patient at no cost, along with any medication that is needed to manage the symptoms related to their hospice diagnosis. This can be delivered by a pharmacy to wherever the patient is staying.
However, it is important to note that hospice is not just about the patient. It also offers support to the patient’s loved ones, so the hospice team will work with your family to make sure everyone is receiving the support they need as they navigate this challenging time.
Get In Touch With Harbor Light Hospice
With our emphasis on care with dignity and maximizing quality of life, the compassionate team at Harbor Light Hospice can provide your loved one and your family with vital support during challenging times. For more information or to learn more about the benefits of our services, get in touch today.