Understanding Hospice Care
Not so long ago, it was commonplace for people to die at home, surrounded by loved ones and familiar possessions. Now, many people die in hospitals, surrounded by tubes and monitors and other high-tech equipment. At Blize, our goal is to give patients who are terminally ill an alternative to this institutional setting that is more focused on home and family.
Hospice care refers to care provided near the end of one’s life in which the goal is comfort, symptom management, and quality of life, as opposed to finding a cure. Hospice care emphasizes living as fully as possible and focuses on:
- relieving the physical, emotional, and spiritual distress that often accompanies a life-limiting illness.
- supporting the family, including conflict resolution.
- providing grief support after the death.
We include the entire family in hospice care, because everyone is affected by a loved one’s end-of-life transition. Our goal is to create an environment of comfort for the patient and an atmosphere of understanding and compassion for the family. Often, families are at conflict on how best to care for a loved one. At Blize, we work to find solutions that best meet the needs of the patient and create harmony among family members.
Our comprehensive range of services includes care that:
- Focuses not just on the patient’s medical condition, but also on the emotional, social, and spiritual needs of both the patient and the patient’s family.
- Is directed, as much as possible, by the patient, working together with the family and the hospice staff.
- Is provided by an interdisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurses, social workers, and therapists.
- Is provided in the patient’s home, wherever that may be.
When Should Hospice Care Begin?
At any time during a life-limiting illness, it’s appropriate to discuss all of the patient’s care options, including hospice. If the patient has deciding to forego curative treatment and simply wants to live the rest of his/her life comfortably and free of pain, it is certainly a good time to explore the hospice option.
Generally speaking, those for whom hospice is appropriate would include individuals who have:
- Been diagnosed with a terminal illness, with a life expectancy of six months or less.
- Stopped seeking curative treatment.
- A personal physician who agrees that hospice care is appropriate and is willing to work with the hospice team to provide care.
The Hospice Team
Hospice care is patient centered, which means that the patient makes care decisions and participates in care planning as much as possible. The patient’s primary home caregiver is also an important part of the hospice team. So is the patient’s physician, who continues to direct medical aspects of the patient’s care. In addition, a hospice team typically includes:
- Hospice nurse, who provides medical assessment and care
- Social worker, who can explain hospice’s philosophy and goals as well as help the patient and family members deal with any personal, financial, and/or emotional issues that arise
- Chaplain or spiritual counselor, who can provide spiritual support
- Therapists – who can help promote relaxation, improve sleep, reduce pain, and enhance comfort and quality of life in other ways.
- Hospice aides, who help with personal care needs
- Bereavement or grief counselor, who provides education, counseling and support for dealing with grief and loss.
Paying for Hospice Care
If you are eligible for the Medicare Hospice Benefit, the following are covered if they are related to the patient’s illness, are authorized as part of the plan of care, and are obtained through a covered provider:
- intermittent home visits by the hospice staff
- medications related to the hospice diagnosis
- medical equipment that is normally covered by Medicare
- short-term respite care
- procedures to manage symptoms
If you have private insurance, our staff will work with you to determine the scope of your coverage and arrange for payment by your insurance plan. If you have limited or no insurance coverage for hospice care, we will work with you to determine your eligibility for financial aid and/or set up a reasonable payment schedule.