While most people know hospice care is a unique type of care focused on provide care for those with life-limiting illnesses, many still have a number of questions about the details of how it works. The goal of hospice is the delivery of compassionate care which provides relief for symptoms of the illness as well as the associated stress, to improve the quality of life for both the patient and his or her family members. Caring for individuals with incurable diseases, hospice care seeks to allow patients to live fully and comfortably during life’s final phases. Hospice care affirms life and accepts death as its final phase, treating the individual and his or her symptoms, without treating the disease or efforts to hasten or hinder death. Hospice features a team of caring professionals who manage care so that the patient’s last days are spent with quality and dignity, surrounded by their beloved family and friends.

Hospice Services Explained

Hospice offers a vast array of services, invaluable to families and their loved ones experiencing the last phases of a life-limiting illness. With the input of family members, hospice professionals create a customized plan, outlining the patient’s unique needs. Hospice workers provide compassionate support and care which includes seeing to everyday needs and helping the family keep the patient comfortable. If special equipment is needed, hospice will arrange it as well. Whether the patient is at home or in a medical setting, hospice strives to provide comfort and quality of life.

The Cost of Hospice

In most cases, hospice care is covered through Medicare through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Medicaid, or major insurance carriers. Depending on the status of the patient and existing coverage, care is available for an extended period if needed. The director of hospice helps families navigate eligibility for services to ensure the patient’s needs are met.

Timing for Hospice Care

Most of the time, the patient’s doctor or team of physicians will recommend hospice care when the time comes. The signs hospice care may be beneficial include a period of repeat hospitalizations without improvement in overall condition, confusion, unexplained weight loss, and declining overall health and wellbeing. If you believe you or your loved one would benefit from hospice care, you can call your selected hospice agency for an evaluation. The hospice care agency will contact the primary care physician and perform the evaluation, at which point you will be provided the results indicating which services would meet your needs or the needs of your loved one.

Hospice Care Locations

Hospice care is a flexible option which can be provided where the patient lives, whether at home or in a medical facility. In some cases, hospice care is provided in a hospice facility. At home, hospice care provides a team, including an attending physician, registered nurses, aids, social workers, chaplains, and even volunteers, who work to provide both physical care and emotional assistance. In a medical facility, such as a nursing home, additional care is provided above the regular care of the facility and may include feeding patients and providing companionship. In both situations, hospice care is offered all hours of the day and night should an emergency arise, thought not 24/7 unless the patient is in a dedicated hospice facility. In addition, it is important to note that some nursing homes, hospitals, and similar facilities offer hospice care services in house.

A Few Final Words

There are instances in which a patient shows signs of recovery while in hospice care. If this occurs, the patient can be discharged from hospice care and returned to treatment and therapy for his or her illness. If a decline in heath recurs, the patient may return to hospice care as needed.

It is important to note that hospice care allows death to come naturally, neither expediting it nor prolonging it, but with the goal to ensure patient comfort and quality of life in his or her final days.

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