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Introduction to Hospice: What You Need to Know

From making the call to choosing a hospice provider to maintaining strength and dignity throughout the care, this overview is designed help make each moment count for patients, caregivers and their families.

The word hospice invokes a range of meanings, feelings and experiences for individuals facing critical healthcare decisions.

“Most people think hospice is a place, and a place they don’t want to go,” said Jenny Schumacher, VNA of Ohio Hospice. “Hospice is actually the philosophy and practice behind compassionate, comfort and dignified care for those with life-limiting illnesses.

Hospice offers a comprehensive approach to meeting the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients with a life expectancy of months or weeks, with the special emphasis on controlling pain and symptoms.

Schumacher says that hospice care does not have to take place at a hospital, but rather at a select location, preferably the home, or an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. Hospice is designed to provide true comfort and care for the patient, as well as coping strategies for the caregivers and their families.

She also shares that hospice isn’t just for cancer patients – a common misconception. Its services extend to the full range of life-limiting illnesses.

Hospice: When to Make the Call

  • According to Schumacher, the average duration of hospice care is about two weeks, but critical care could begin much earlier in many situations, offering more choices, comfort and overall dignity for the patient.
  • A doctor’s order is required for a patient to receive hospice (six months or less to live per Medicare guidelines). But family members shouldn’t hesitate to contact a home healthcare provider to ask questions, discuss options, and seek information on Medicare and Medicaid eligibility.

Choosing a Hospice Provider

  • Call on the strength of a full team of professionals to support all aspects from the transition, to treatment, to end-of-life planning. This includes physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, spiritual care coordinators, counselors, homecare aides and volunteers.
  • Seek providers that offer 24/7 on-call services for critical situations.
  • Choose providers that have specialized certification in hospice care, as well as master level social workers and counselors.
  • Understand the bereavement services available to you and your family, as well as pre-bereavement counseling during the transition.
  • Look for special therapeutic services that add to the comfort and well being of the patient, such as Massage, Music and Art Therapies.

Making Every Day Matter

  • Hospice can be the source of comfort in critical times of confusion, worry and lack of control with life-limiting illness. The holistic approach exists to give all involved parties the chance to improve the quality of life for the patient, and provide support when it’s needed most.
  • Hospice steps in once treatments have been exhausted, but that doesn’t mean patients can’t graduate from hospice if conditions improve, or the patient, or his or her family, seeks alternative care.
  • Understand that you are not alone in this journey and those that believe in hospice will do whatever it takes to improve the circumstances you have. Although time may be out of your control, hospice gives you the power to improve the days that you can spend together.

Call VNA of Ohio Today

View more information on Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio's hospice services, or call us today at 1-877-698-6264.

Topics: Hospice Articles, hospice-articles Personal Care personal-care

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