#4 - Hospice: Is It About The Journey or Its Conclusion?
Hospice care is about the patient’s quality of life, not their death. If caregivers can be open to this truth, rather than burdened by the stigma of a death watch, their care journey becomes more manageable earlier. For patients who have conditions that may or may not result in death, palliative care services are available. These services may not involve Hospice care. Hospice care, however, always involves palliative care.
Palliative care services can begin as early as the initial diagnosis of a chronic medical condition, or at the beginning of a difficult and complicated curative treatment regime. Palliative care includes education, social services, counseling, skilled nursing, home health aides, spiritual support, medical equipment, and medical management of symptoms arising out of treatment for chronic conditions. These services most often take place in the home. These multidisciplinary services are managed by Hospice companies. Palliative care is paid for by Medicare B, which may involve copayments and deductibles.
Caregivers who involve palliative care services for their loved one early report a higher quality of life. They feel supported emotionally and physically. The patient’s quality of life is enhanced because their emotional and comfort needs are being met.
Some medical conditions lead to a person’s death. The family can add end-of-life care to the palliative regimen. Hospice provides end-of-life care. Respite care is made available to the caregiver as well so that they get a break. Medicare part A pays for this as well as the continuation of palliative services at 100%. Medicare requires that a Hospice physician certify that the patient is expected to live no longer than six months due to terminal illness.
Engaging palliative services, though provided by Hospice companies, does not mean your loved one is going to die in six months. Palliative services enhance the patient’s and their caregiver’s quality of life. The earlier palliative care begins, the better for all concerned. These services are complimentary to any long-term care support for activities of daily living that the patient is receiving whether at home, in the hospital, or in a facility.
You are not alone.