A study of the benefits of hospice care

The primary goal of hospice is to ensure that the end-of-life process is as comfortable and peaceful as possible for patients, caregivers, and loved ones. However, deciding when to begin this supportive care can be a difficult and overwhelming process. Below, we discuss the potential benefits of hospice and answer some common questions about this field of medicine.

What does hospice care involve?

Hospice care provides medical services, emotional support, and spiritual resources for people in the late stages of an incurable illness, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. Hospice care also helps family members deal with the practical details and emotional challenges of caring for someone who is in the final stages of life.

A common misconception about starting hospice is that it is a last resort. Many people also believe that hospice means a lower level of medical care, when in fact it is a form of specialized care that focuses on improving the quality of a patient’s remaining days rather than continuing treatment to prolong life. The main goal of hospice is to make patients as comfortable as possible during their last moments. Hospice care strives to give patients and their families as much control and dignity as possible with the time they have together.

Who provides hospice care?

Hospice services are provided by a team of dedicated caregivers that includes health professionals, volunteers and spiritual advisors. The services they offer may include:

  • Basic medical care with an emphasis on pain management and symptom control.
  • Access to a member of the hospice team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Medical supplies and equipment if needed.
  • Counseling and social support for both the patient and his relatives.
  • Guidance with the complex challenges of ending and closing life.

In addition, Parkview Home Health and Hospice takes a team approach, giving patients and their loved ones the support they need to navigate each step of their hospice journey. Whether at home or in a facility, patients and families can find comfort and guidance from the following team members:

  • GP
  • Hospice Medical Director
  • Registered Nurse
  • Home health aide
  • Social Worker
  • chaplain
  • Volunteers
  • a pharmacist
  • Massage therapists, occupational, physical and/or music therapists

The Parkview Hospice team will also adjust the patient’s care plan as the patient’s situation and needs change. Many people worry about losing touch with their regular doctor, but we take steps to ensure that doesn’t happen by collaborating with their primary care provider and coordinating care.

What steps should someone take to prepare for hospice?

Choosing hospice care can be an overwhelming and challenging decision, but there are steps patients and their loved ones can take to prepare and enter this new chapter with ease.

  • Prepare a list of advance directives. These are instructions for the patient’s provider and family members. They let them know what care someone wants if they can’t talk or express themselves.
  • Find out their coverage. Before finalizing their decision, patients or caregivers should find out if their health insurance covers hospice care.
  • Find local resources. Patients and caregivers will want to find local hospice programs and a care team that will work with them and cooperate with their doctor, state health department and insurance company.
  • Choose their hospice services. Knowing what a patient wants before entering a hospice program can benefit everyone involved.

Other questions and aspects of care that patients should consider as they prepare for hospice care should include:

  • Who do you want to make decisions about your medical care?
  • What are your biggest end-of-life fears and concerns?
  • Where would you rather spend your last months, days or moments?
  • Want to make organ donation a priority?
  • Do you have specific wishes about religious rites or practices?

Where can patients and carers go for help?

If you have questions or would like more information about hospice and palliative care services or referring a patient to Parkview Hospice, please call 260-373-9800 or 800-363-9977. You can also fill out our online form here. We are happy to answer your questions and walk these paths with you.

Useful resources

For more information on hospice care, check out these Parkview Dashboard blog posts:

Minimizing fear and anxiety around the end of life

Open dialogue on end of life and palliative care

The value of palliative care

A team approach to hospice care

Lifelong relationships created through hospice care

A healing touch

Simple strategies to comfort a loved one

The Hospice Chaplain’s Helping Hand

Making the most of end-of-life conversations

Understanding the dying process

Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information is not a substitute for medical advice.

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