When a medical team’s best efforts are no longer helping a patient with cancer and the possibility of going into remission or healing has been ruled out, hospice can be a very useful tool. This service ensures patients are cared for and that they enjoy their final months, weeks or days with the best quality of life possible.
Signs It Is Time For Hospice
Hospice is generally called in when a patient has six months or less to live according to a clinical diagnosis from a physician. Every patient and disease progresses differently, but there are a few signs that are commonly seen among people whose illness has progressed to the most advanced stage.
When the burden of a patient’s treatment is outweighing the benefits it provides and pursuing treatment is taking too much of a toll on the patient, hospice can be very beneficial. Likewise, when a patient’s treatment is no longer working, their malignancy is progressing, or they are getting progressively weaker, the time may be right for hospice.
When Is Hospice Called In For Cancer Patients?
When medical professionals and the patient agree that their cancer can no longer be cured and they are not expected to live beyond six months, the approach usually shifts from focusing on treatment to quality of life.
Nevertheless, many patients and families say they wish they had started hospice sooner. It is a good idea to get in touch with hospice as early as possible when given a terminal diagnosis so you can plan in advance and discuss the options available with your loved ones.
Hospice care can begin as soon as a doctor provides a referral or a formal request is made. A hospice representative will usually visit the patient within 48 hours of the physician’s approval, although the process can be started sooner in urgent situations. Hospice professionals can guide patients and their loved ones through the process, but the decision to get hospice care is ultimately left to the patient.
It is important to note that should a patient show signs of improvement after shifting to hospice, hospice care can be suspended and the patient can resume treatment.
How Does Hospice Help People With Cancer?
Hospice care can improve the quality of life for cancer patients as the end of their life approaches, ensuring that they are comfortable and that their needs are met during this challenging time.
Coordinated And Flexible Care
A hospice team includes doctors, nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains and volunteers. The hospice develops a plan of care in conjunction with the patient’s oncologist and other doctors, and the parties involved will hold regular meetings to stay updated.
Hospices can help patients get all the medical supplies, equipment and medication they need to be comfortable. Care is typically provided in a patient’s home, but it can also be given in a long-term care facility or other location as needed. Some hospices also offer inpatient services around the clock for shorter periods when more intensive care is needed.
A key component of ensuring patients’ comfort is minimizing their pain and giving them as much control over their daily lives as possible. Hospice teams ensure patients are receiving adequate medication and monitor them for signs that their dosage needs adjustment or that a particular medication is not serving them well. They also offer alternative approaches, such as meditation and massage, to help alleviate symptoms.
Spiritual And Emotional Care
Patients who are approaching the end of their lives often experience very strong emotions. Emotional care is an important component of hospice care and is approached from several angles. This includes volunteers who talk to patients and facilitate communication with families and chaplains who can help patients address any spiritual questions that arise in a way that respects their personal beliefs.
Hospice care is not solely focused on the patient; it is a comprehensive approach that includes the entire family. Hospice care aims to provide caregivers with training on how to help their loved ones as well as emotional support during this difficult time. They can also let families know what to expect in the coming days and weeks and assist those who are struggling to make decisions that will impact their loved one.
Respite care is also available for patients when their caregivers need to be away for whatever reason. In addition, hospices provide bereavement specialists to help families prepare for the loss of their loved one and support them when they are grieving.
Reach Out To The Experienced Hospice For Cancer Patients Team
If your loved one is facing a terminal diagnosis, reach out to the experienced and compassionate team at Harbor Light Hospice to find out how their hospice care can provide valuable support as you navigate end-of-life issues.