Although many people have a general idea of what hospice is and who it serves, many hospice workers report that a lot of families do not fully understand the benefits of hospice care visits before signing up. Here is a look at some of the things that hospice nurses wish people knew about this type of care.
Signing Up For Hospice Care Is Not Giving Up Hope
One of the most important things hospice care nurses stress is that agreeing to hospice care does not mean that a person is giving up hope.
Although many people turn to hospice when they have exhausted all the possibilities for curative treatment, getting hospice care is a positive step that allows patients to focus on their quality of life instead of counting the days they have remaining.
Many hospice patients spend their time relaxing and receiving visitors instead of going to endless doctor’s appointments, although they do receive comfort care aimed at alleviating pain and maximizing comfort. Hospice teams help people focus on whatever it is that brings them joy, whether that is spending time socializing with friends and family or going outside on a nice day to enjoy the weather. Hospices also provide other types of support, such as volunteers to spend time with patients, special therapists such as music and pet therapists, chaplains to discuss spiritual issues, and other professionals as needed.
Hospice Care Can Be Administered Wherever You Live
Although we sometimes say that a person is “in hospice”, hospice is not a hospital or even a place. Instead, it is a type of care that is administered to patients who likely have six months or less to live because of a life-limiting illness wherever they happen to live, whether they are in their own home, a long-term care facility, or living with a family caregiver.
Hospice teams visit the patient wherever they live and bring them the supplies and medications needed to be comfortable throughout their end-of-life journey. They also offer 24/7 support by telephone.
Hospice Supports Families As Well As Patients
Although the patient is at the center of hospice care, hospice seeks to provide patients’ families with comprehensive support and guidance. Hospice teams provide practical support, such as showing family caregivers how best to care for their loved ones and administer medication, as well as emotional support, lending a sympathetic ear as family members process the complex emotions that arise during this time.
In addition, family caregivers sometimes need assistance understanding and making medical decisions. Hospice teams can typically spend more time with patients and their families than busy doctors explaining the pros and cons of the available options.
Hospice can also provide overnight respite care when a family caregiver needs some time to recharge or rest so they can approach their caregiving duties from a fresh perspective. Hospice volunteers can also help family caregivers with errands and chores around the house.
The Earlier You Enroll, The Better
Hospice care, by definition, is only available to people who are expected to live for six months or less should their life-limiting illness run its expected course. This can be extended if the patient’s condition improves to the point where they live beyond this time but continue to meet the other prerequisites for care.
However, many patients wait until they are a few days or weeks away from death to enroll in hospice, and this is unfortunate because many hospice providers report that their patients’ families say they wish they had contacted hospice sooner.
Support From Hospice Does Not End When The Patient Passes Away
When your loved one passes away, your hospice team will still be there if needed to offer grief and bereavement support for up to a year after their death.
Their extensive experience guiding people through the grieving process can be extremely valuable, and they can also point you to resources within the community as well as professional therapists who can help you if you are struggling.
Many people are so moved by the support they received from hospice that they end up becoming volunteers themselves in the future so that they can make a difference in someone else’s life as they go through this challenging time.
Reach Out To Harbor Light Hospice
If you or a loved one is dealing with a life-limiting illness, it is never too early to get in touch with hospice to start discussing enrollment and the ways that their support can improve quality of life. Get in touch with the friendly team at Harbor Light Hospice to find out more about their services so you will be fully prepared when the time comes. They will be happy to answer your questions about the process and explain how hospice care works so you can make an informed decision.