Why choose hospice care?
The decision to begin hospice care is always the patient’s and family’s choice. Some people mistakenly believe that hospice is a last resort or means they’re giving up on life. Some think that choosing hospice means they will receive a lower level of medical care. In fact, hospice is active care that focuses on improving the quality of life when cure is no longer possible.
During the latter stages of a serious illness, many people feel that they are losing control over their lives and over what will happen to them. Hospice care helps patients and families understand their options for meeting the challenges of a serious illness. This enables patients and their loved ones to make their own decisions about things that matter most to them.
“My hospice care nurses have encouraged me to try to make the most of every day. I say ‘I love you’ a lot more, and I try to be honest about my feelings, to myself and to others. I’m so grateful for my hospice team. They are a blessing.” – Barbara, 68
What does hospice provide?
Hospice services include:
- Medical care with a focus on pain and symptom control.
- Access to a member of the hospice team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Coaching and support to family members who take on caregiving roles.
- Medical supplies and equipment as needed.
- Counseling and social support to help patients and families with psychological, emotional, and spiritual issues.
- In-patient care if a symptom cannot be successfully managed at home (this is rarely needed).
- A break (respite care) for caregivers to allow them to rest before resuming care for the patient at home.
- Volunteer support, such as preparing meals and running errands.
- Grief support to family members after the loss of a loved one.
Who is on the hospice team?
The patient is the center of the care team. The patient’s own goals and wishes shape the care hospice provides.
The family and other loved ones are also integral to the team. The family provides care as needed, and helps make decisions if the patient cannot do so for him/herself.
Physician care is provided by the patient’s personal physician. The hospice Medical Director works closely with the hospice team and is available to consult with the patient’s own physician.
Hospice nurses visit during the week to coordinate care and instruct patients and caregivers. Hospice nurses keep the patient’s physician updated regularly about changes in the patient’s condition. Nurses are available for phone advice and urgent visits if needed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Hospice social workers provide counseling and emotional support to patients and family members. They are also available to assist with practical matters such as finding additional help in the home and coordinating referrals to government and community agencies and services.
Home health aides visit during the week as needed to assist with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing, and linen changes. The hospice team works with patients to determine when aide services are appropriate.
Hospice chaplains are available to help patients and families of any background deal with spiritual concerns. The hospice chaplain provides counseling and facilitates referrals to community clergy when needed.
Trained volunteers provide companionship and emotional support to patients and caregivers and assist with respite and other practical needs.
Bereavement team provides a range of bereavement support services to families during the year following the loss of their loved ones. Support can start as soon as care begins, and special care is offered to the children in the family.
Who is eligible for hospice care?
Hospice care is available to patients who:
- Have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and whose physician determines that their life expectancy is measured in months rather than years, if their illness runs its usual course.
- Wish their care to focus on improving their quality of life and on the relief of pain and other symptoms.
- Wish to receive care in their own place of residence and the care related to their illness can be safely and effectively provided in the home with the support of family or other caregivers.
Who pays for hospice care?
There is no cost for hospice care. Hospice is a covered benefit through Medicare, Medicaid, and Kaiser Permanente Health Plans.
How do I get hospice care?
Talk with your primary care physician about whether hospice is the right choice for you. You may also contact the Hospice office directly with questions or for more information, Monday – Friday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm at 510-675-5777.