When you hear the word hospice do you have a visceral response? Does it make your stomach hurt or feel nauseous? Do your eyes fill with tears or your head begin to hurt as thoughts turn to memories? If so, is this because you or someone you love is in hospice now? Perhaps, it brings a memory of a loved one that is no longer by your side.
Or, when you hear the word hospice do you have an intellectual curiosity regarding this word you have heard more frequently than previous? Did you discover this post because a doctor has recommended it for a friend and you want to learn more?
Regardless of your initial response, I want you to know that you matter here, and it is wise to have a clear understanding of this crucial aspect of medical care as a part of Living with the End in Mind.
If your immediate association is about dying and death, I want to first reorient your thinking that hospice care is about life care. It may be that hospice is oriented to the last six months of life, yet it is still life. I want you to live while you have breath and praise as you make your way home.
Understanding Hospice Care:
- The Philosophy of Hospice: Hospice care centers around the philosophy of providing comfort, dignity, and support during the final stages of life. Unlike curative treatments, the primary goal of hospice is to enhance the quality of life for patients facing a life-limiting illness. It embraces a holistic approach that addresses physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. It is a resource for both the patient and those who care for them.
- Eligibility and Timing: To qualify for hospice care, individuals typically have a prognosis of six months or less if the illness runs its natural course. However, many times hospice is considered late or not at all for fear that it will expedite death. Patients endure pain and anxiety that could be treated with appropriate care and skills. This care can be delivered in a hospital, nursing home, hospice facility, or even at home.
- Multidisciplinary Care Team: Hospice care involves a multidisciplinary team of professionals. This team usually includes doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, doulas, counselors, and volunteers. Each member brings their expertise to address the diverse needs of the patient and their family.
- Services Provided: Hospice care offers a wide range of services to meet the unique needs of each individual and their family. These services often include pain and symptom management, medication management, medical equipment and other supplies.
- Family Involvement and Support: Hospice recognizes the importance of involving and supporting the patient’s family throughout the caregiving journey. Family members are encouraged to actively participate in decision-making, care planning, and emotional support. Bereavement support is offered to help patients and families in the grief that accompanies impending separation and separation.
Understanding the role of hospice in the healthcare spectrum and when it is most appropriate to utilize their services is an aspect of Living with the End in Mind. Gaining wisdom will help combat chaos and fear when you need it most.