What is hospice?
Basically, hospice is end of life care. On a deeper level, hospice focuses on providing specialized care to a patient and their family in the last stages of that person’s life. During hospice care, staff members make sure that the patient is comfortable and has the highest quality of life for however long his remaining time on earth is. We look at all aspects of care for that patient, including physical, emotional, social and spiritual. We have a diverse, specialized team of people to address all those needs.
For the vast majority of patients and families, there is no out of pocket cost for hospice care. Hospice pays for the staff visits, hospice-related medications, durable medical equipment (DME) such as hospital beds, wheelchairs and other supplies such as briefs and wipes. Hospice also pays for the care, if there is a need, at our in-patient unit (Hospice of the Hills), whether for symptom management, or respite which is provided up to 5 midnights each calendar month for caregiver relief. For patients with no insurance coverage, we provide the same care and the Hospice of the Hills board provides the coverage from fundraising efforts throughout the year.
Is hospice care only done at Hospice of the Hills?
For most patients hospice care takes place in wherever the patient calls home, which could be in their actual home, a friend or family members’ home or any of a number of long-term care facilities in the area. Hospice of the Hills’ patients have access to our inpatient unit, The Hospice of the Hills: Hospice House, if they develop symptoms or other issues that require more intense care by a registered nurse and adjustments by a physician (such as unrelieved pain or anxiety). Hospice of the Hills’ patients also have access to the Hospice House for respite care, which is available up to five midnights per calendar month to allow the patient’s caregiver to have time for rest.
What is the difference between hospice care and palliative care?
Hospice is a form of palliative care. Palliative care is specialized care for people with serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from symptoms and stress of a serious illness. Palliative care’s goal is to improve the quality of life. The major difference between palliative care and hospice care is that palliative care can begin with being diagnosed with the illness, and continues alongside treatments. Hospice care typically begins after treatment is stopped and it becomes clear that the person is not likely to survive the illness.
What happens during Hospice care?
While on hospice, most patients remain at home and have services provided to them in the comfort of a familiar place. The patient is visited by a team of specialized professional including registered nurses, certified nurse’s aides, a social worker, chaplain and volunteers on a regular basis. The patient’s needs are assessed and met based on each individual situation. Instruction is given regarding what is likely to take place as the patient progresses in their disease in an effort to prepare the patient and their family so that there are few surprises. Medications as well as alternative therapies are implemented as the situation dictates. Many other services are provided to the patient and family, at no cost.