The phrase “end-of-life care” can cause fear and confusion. However, as the adage says, knowledge is power. It’s important to be armed with as much information as possible, when preparing to make end-of-life care decisions.
Hospice care typically begins once a physician certifies a patient is terminally ill and has a life expectancy of six months or less. The focus is no longer curative, but turns to comfort. Contrary to what many people believe, hospice is not only for cancer patients. Any terminally ill patient in the end-stage of any disease may receive hospice care.
Hospice services can be provided within a patient’s home, the place where the patient probably feels most comfortable. It is within their home, that the patient can be surrounded by the people and things that he/she loves. According to the American Hospice Foundation, receiving professional care and support can make it possible for very sick patients to stay at home.
This care and support will come from the hospice team, which will set up an individualized care plan. The hospice care team includes physicians, nurses, counselors, social workers, spiritual advisors, and volunteers. The goal is to develop a holistic plan focusing on pain management and symptom control, while also addressing emotional needs.
Hospice staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the needs of patients and their families.
There are many ways to make a hospice patient more comfortable, according to the National Institute on Aging. In addition to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs, hospice patients also have practical needs. NIA suggests help with chores around the home such as laundry, pet care or errands, allows families to focus solely on their loved one. The knowledge these day-to-day tasks are being managed can bring comfort.
The decision to pursue hospice care is not an easy one to make. However Mayo Clinic reports that hospice care can in fact make people who have incurable illnesses, feel better and even live longer. The report also says that enrolling in hospice care early can help patients develop strong relationships with hospice staff, who will help with end-of-life care needs.
The professionals of ALC Palliative and Hospice Care work respectfully, holistically and collaboratively with hospice patients and their families, providing high quality health care within one’s home.