12 Sep Hospice and the Importance of Family
There are some unfortunate instances where illnesses shorten the lives of loved ones. Where the period can be calculated in weeks, months, or years, a patient may be placed under special care and attention.
Hospice care at home or an institution may determine if a family will grow closer together or get torn further apart. So, the question becomes, what can role does a hospice play when it comes to the family? Also, what is the importance of family in making the care better for their relative?
What is Hospice?
Hospice is a specialized care that is offered to persons who have less than 6 months to live. Hospice is more patient and family-centered and focuses on providing comfort rather than finding a cure.
The team providing hospice care includes doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, volunteers, and homemakers, among others. This team mainly focuses on managing a patient’s pain and symptoms and giving him or her emotional and spiritual support. The family members of the patient also receive this support.
Care can be provided either at the home of the loved one, nursing home, assisted living facility, hospital, or hospice house.
Choosing a Hospice Center
This is the first instance where the family plays a major role. When picking a hospice, take the following into account:
The Reviews on the Center
Previous and present clients are the most valuable sources of information where hospice care is concerned. You can find these clients online or in person by asking around. What thoughts do they have about the hospice center? Are their responses positive or negative?
The Period of Operation
Hospice centers that have been around for a long time offer a sense of stability. Also, if you pick a relatively new center, ensure that you are confident about their quality.
Their Payment Methods
If you will depend on health insurance to cater for the payments, the hospice center you pick should be accredited by the said insurer. For example, if using Medicare, the center should be Medicare-accredited.
While accreditation by JCAHO and CHAP does not determine the quality of care provided by the hospice center, it is definitely an advantage. This is because it means that a third party has checked the services provided and determined that the appropriate standard of care has been met.
The Limits on the Care
If the hospice is limited in its scope of services provided, confirm that they can provide care for your relative. If not, move on to a different one.
The Expectation on Family Members
Confirm what the hospice center expects the family members of the patient to do, and whether you will meet such requirements comfortably.
Extra Services Offered
Health insurance providers like Medicare are concerned with the basic provision of comfort for the patient. However, some hospice centers may provide extra services like chemotherapy for patients with cancer at no additional cost. Such centers would be a better choice.
Services Offered by Hospice Care
Nursing care services around the clock
Where considered useful or necessary, the hospice center may provide speech, occupational and physical services
Emotional and spiritual support for the patient and his family
Where the care is provided by both the relatives and the center, the former may be trained on the best way to provide comfort to the patient
Management of physical symptoms and pain by experts
Coordination of the services provided by the patient’s personal doctor
Bereavement and grief support groups to help the family survive the death of the patient
The Benefits of Hospice Care
What are the benefits of placing a patient under hospice?
a) Specialized Care
A hospice environment is one filled with terminally-ill patients who may require special type of care that you may be unable to give at home. Under hospice care, the patient has qualified doctors, nurses, home providers, and volunteers working round the clock to provide him with comfort during his final days. These care providers also give professional support to the family of the patient to help them get through the period with relative ease.
Hospice care is covered under Medicare, which is one of the most common health insurance solutions in the US. By placing a patient under hospice care, you let the insurance company pay for the cost of catering for his medical and other needs in a professional capacity. As family members, you also get professional and emotional support at no extra cost.
c) Personal Assistance
During their final days, a patient or their family member may be worried about the extensive help that will be required. Getting hospice care relieves some of these duties off the family members. These may include laundry, food preparation, and personal hygiene, especially where the care is centered at home. This way, the patient and their family are able to enjoy more quality time during this emotional period.
d) Works with Both the Family and Patient
Standard hospitals are more concerned with ensuring that the patient gets well and goes home later. Their doctors patch up wounds, prescribe medication, and send patients home. In hospice care, there is very little chance of a patient recovering and, therefore, the providers help them through this period by involving their family. Patients get emotional support and love from family members, ensuring that the quality of their lives in their final days is desirable.
e) Bereavement Support
After the death of a loved one, most hospice centers provide bereavement support to the concerned families. This may include follow-up phone calls that offer support from care providers who dealt with the deceased, visits or calls from trained grief counselors from hospice centers, grief support groups, and even remembrance services. These services may vary from one hospice center to the next.
The Importance of Family in Hospice and Hospice to Family
The following are roles played by relatives in hospice:
a) Advanced Directives
Hospice care enables the patient, his family, and at times his lawyer, to discuss any advanced directives. These will include all the specific preferences that the patient may have had regarding his care, treatment, and end-of-life wishes. Family members play a major role in ensuring that these wishes are met.
b) Providing Comfort
The hospice care may be provided at home or a center, and the choice of full-time professional care depends on the patient and his family. Where the relatives are taking an active role in the care, they will need to learn how to provide comfort for the patient.
c) Open Communication
Family members are expected to communicate freely with patients in order for the hospice care to succeed. The specific needs, expectations, and preferences of the patient should also be communicated to the care providers in order to provide the expected comfort. This communication is also important where the family member might be required to be the patient’s advocate if the latter cannot make his own decisions.
d) Understanding Patient Cues
This role is especially important where the illness has advanced to its final stages, and the patient is unable to communicate his needs properly. A family member will be required to understand the verbal and facial cues of the patient when the latter requires something.
The roles of hospice care to the family include:
a) Team Approach
Personally caring for a terminally ill patient is exhaustive physically, emotionally, and psychologically. With hospice care, however, there is a team of doctors, nurses, volunteers, social workers, and home health aides, among others who work to provide the patient with comfort. This relieves the family members of some of the activities required to care for the patient, hence reducing the exhaustion.
b) Home-based Care
Where the family member is unable to care for the patient fully but prefers to see them daily, they can request for home-based care. This way, the patient is surrounded by the people he loves and in an environment that he is familiar with during his final days.
c) Pain and Symptom Management
It is painful for family members to see their relatives in pain or experiencing discomfort. With hospice care, the pain and symptoms of the patient are managed, alleviating some of the emotional torture that the relatives may be experiencing.
Since hospice care is included in most health insurances like Medicaid and Medicare, the weight of paying for the services is lifted off of family member’s shoulders.
e) Grief Support
In the end, most hospice centers provide bereavement services where the family members can see a qualified grief counselor to help them through their loss.
Hospice care is necessary for terminally-ill patients as it ensures that they are comfortable in their final days. Other benefits include specialized and personal care and bereavement support after the passing of the patient. Family plays a major role in hospice care, especially where patient care and wishes are concerned. Hospice care also plays a big role for family members as it relieves them of some care duties and helps them in moving on after the death of their relatives.