Hospice Care Helps Patient and Family.

A family member has days, perhaps hours, left on this earth.  Their family is preparing to say goodbye. The patient may be conscious and saying their farewells or maybe they’ve already started to slip into the next phase.  A doctor, nurse, a social worker, suggests that the family consider electing hospice care. The family starts to question what hospice is and decides it’s what’s right for their loved one. The patient dies shortly thereafter.

How often do you see this?  The latest statistical reports show that 35% of hospice patients have a length of stay of less than seven days. Add in another 27% to represent the patients that have a length of stay of 8-29 days and you get more than 60% of hospice patients are on-service for less than 30 days.

The services that hospices provide are invaluable. If we look at the overarching benefits electing hospice care, it’s understandable why so many people make that decision.

  • Pain Management
    Patients electing hospice receive medications and often, alternative therapies, to help with the management of pain. It is a hospice goal to enable patients to be as pain free as possible.
  • Quality of Life
    Quality of life can sometimes be confused with quantity by well-meaning family members and friends. Consider, would mom prefer being home, surrounded by those she loves and who love her versus going through another round of chemo or dialysis? Hospices offer quality of life experiences for their patients and their loved ones.
  • Death, with dignity
    Think about a grandmother in the hospital for weeks leading up to her death. She’d lost control of many of her own functions. When she was conscious, she struggled with recognizing loved ones. Perhaps for grandma, being able to be pain free, at home, aware of her surroundings, and with loved ones, may have been more precious than extending her life by a few more weeks.  It would provide her the ability to die with dignity, remembered as she was.
  • Guidance for family & friends
    Hospice patients & families have a network of people who are there to help answer questions, provide suggestions, and most importantly, listen. Hospice caregivers are able to help prepare families for what to expect. Guide them on how they can help their loved one. The hospice team can be a sounding board for many families going through what may be one of the most difficult times of their lives.
  • Multi-disciplinary review of care
    On a routine basis a team of multi-disciplinary professionals review the patient’s care and progression. They discuss what additional services may be needed now, or in the future.  They also discuss what the family’s needs are or what they may be in the future. They discuss the clinical care that’s being provided to the patient all with the intent of ensuring the patient and family are receiving the care they need and deserve.
  • Post-death Support and Assistance
    Hospice care doesn’t stop when the patient passes. There are individuals and groups that are available to help surviving loved ones as they take their first steps in the new life without their loved one.

These are just a few of the things I thought of when considering the benefits of electing hospice care.

I ask you to share your thoughts on what you might add to this list.  How do you help convey the value of hospice to your patients, their families, and the community?