Cancer can be a challenging disease to treat, and you might reach a point where treatments are not helping and a cure or remission is no longer a possibility. At that point, the focus of your care may shift from curing the disease to living your final days in peace and comfort. Hospice cancer care addresses these needs with a kind and holistic approach that can help you and your family.
Many patients report that hospice cancer care is a very positive experience that improves their quality of life during their final months. After a doctor has referred you to hospice, you can begin receiving this valuable care.
Where And How Often Will I Receive Care?
You will be visited by hospice team members several times per week to receive physical, spiritual and emotional support for you and your family. Although hospice cancer care typically takes place in patients’ homes, you can also receive it in other locations, such as an assisted living facility.
What Type Of Care Will I Receive?
Outlined below is what you can expect during your time in hospice cancer care.
You will receive care from a team of trained professionals as well as volunteers. The team will coordinate with your oncologist and other physicians, and meetings will be held regularly so all parties are apprised of your progress.
In addition, you and your family will work with the hospice team to create a plan that includes the goals and actions of your care.
Comfort And Pain Management
One of the main focuses of hospice care is ensuring you remain comfortable. You will work with a hospice nurse who specializes in pain management to ensure you are being given appropriate medication that remains effective even as your pain levels change. Your hospice nurse can also adjust or switch your medication if it is no longer helping or is causing unwanted side effects.
Hospice can coordinate the ordering, delivery and setup of medical equipment and supplies that can help increase your comfort. For example, they can bring you wheelchairs, geriatric recliners, shower chairs, hospital beds and nebulizers. A hospice nurse will assess your needs and ensure your equipment is delivered in a timely manner, while care staff will monitor your supply usage and replenish supplies as needed.
Hospices have nurses who are on call around the clock to help with emergencies, giving patients and families peace of mind that they can get prompt attention when urgent care is needed.
A chaplain is included as part of hospice to provide you with spiritual care. Your chaplain will plan, assess and address your spiritual needs throughout your time in hospice cancer care. The service provided by the chaplain can help you and your loved ones find peace and comfort as you approach the end of your life.
Chaplains help you explore topics like the meaning of life and show you the value and positive impact of your life. They might not have all the answers to life’s big questions, but the conversations you have can help you reach a better place spiritually. The hospice chaplain will also help your family cope spiritually and process emotions such as anger, guilt, confusion and sadness.
The spiritual counsel you receive will be consistent with your faith and your wishes. The chaplain services are entirely optional, and you are free to change your mind about this at any time.
Hospices provide social workers trained in giving you and your family emotional and psychosocial support. They can help to coordinate the logistics of your care, liaising with the Veterans Administration or your insurance as needed, and they can assist with funeral planning and other end-of-life matters.
They can also listen to your concerns and help you address them. Some of the areas where they can offer counseling include advance directives, family dynamics, grief and financial situations.
Home Health Aides
Home health aides can help you with activities of daily living, such as doing laundry, changing your bed, and personal hygiene, as needed.
You will also be visited by a hospice volunteer who is trained in end-of-life issues, confidentiality, and working with families. They can provide companionship or conversation and help you manage your interpersonal relationships.
Volunteers can also provide a range of helpful services, including helping with simple household chores, running errands, staying with you while your loved ones take a break, preparing light meals, and transporting you to medical appointments.
You may also be visited by different types of therapists. A pet therapy volunteer, for example, might bring a pet to your house for you to spend time with, which can help alleviate pain, lower blood pressure and bring some joy to your day.
Music therapists can come to play an instrument for you, which can promote relaxation, and some might even take requests.
Some hospices also have massage therapist volunteers who can help with pain relief and relaxation.
Get In Touch With The Compassionate Hospice Cancer Care Team
If you want to learn more about how hospice works and what you can expect throughout your care, get in touch with the compassionate team at Harbor Light Hospice.