Hospice Care Isn’t About Giving Up – It’s About Quality of Life
Sarah had been suffering from brain cancer for many months. After a particularly bad night, she asked for a hospice caregiver, but her husband called 911 and she was taken to the hospital, where she was poked and prodded and treated for a disease she knew was terminal. After a full day of misery, she again asked to receive hospice care. This time, her wish was granted and she went home, where she died peacefully a week later.
Many people are reluctant to enlist the services of hospice caregivers, because they see it as “giving up.” In truth, hospice care is a compassionate response to someone who is terminally ill and living in pain. Sarah knew the end was near and simply wanted to make her transition in peace.
The goal of hospice is to provide palliative care, which is an approach that is aimed at improving a patient’s quality of life by treating pain and managing other symptoms. People receiving hospice care have given up on curative treatments and, instead, are focused on creating a time of comfort and dignity.
When is hospice care appropriate?
Many families report that they wish they had chosen hospice treatment earlier. Studies have shown that choosing hospice earlier makes things easier on patients with a life-limiting condition, and on families as well. For example, the American Cancer Society believes that hospice services can be most effective and supportive if the patient and family have a minimum of 30 days of hospice care.
When considering whether it is time to choose hospice, it’s important to know that the hospice emphasis doesn’t mean abandoning hope. Rather, hospice means a positive choice for quality of life and living each day to the fullest during the final stages of life. If a patient specifically requests hospice care, like Sarah did, their wishes should be honored.
Selecting hospice care earlier also lessens the difficulty and stress of making an important decision at a time of crisis. It can make a critical difference in how a person comes to terms with dying, and can give patients and families the time they need to prepare themselves for the loss of a loved one. It also means there is time for important discussions about advance directives and other healthcare decisions, while the patient is still able to speak on his or her behalf and make his wishes known.
Hospice provides an extensive array of services
Hospice services are very inclusive. At Blize, hospice services include observation and assessment of the patient’s condition; pain and symptom management; assistance with the activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, grooming and cooking; coordination of all in-home medical needs; and providing emotional and spiritual support to the patient and their family. The hospice team members include physicians, nurses, social workers, care aides, chaplains, volunteers and therapists.
Paying for Hospice Care
Hospice care is covered under Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance). Patients who are eligible for Medicare Part A can receive hospice care once the doctor or hospice medical director certify that the patient is terminally ill and probably has less than six months to live. Patients must sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of standard Medicare. Medicare will still pay for covered benefits for any health problems that are not related to the terminal illness. Blize can help coordinate with Medicare to provide a variety of services that are generally covered.
Hospice care respects the individual
With Blize Hospice Care, patients and their families can expect services that address their individual needs. Blize Hospice Care affirms life by providing the comfort that helps everyone involved experience death as a normal part of life.