Hospice is about living
At Riverways, Hospice is about living, making the most of every moment.
It is about providing a patient with dignity and quality of life.
According to the American Medical News, more people are seeking hospice,
but physicians say patients often enter such programs too late to experience
the palliative and social benefits. So often, we hear from patients and
families that they wish they would have called hospice sooner. Many people
wait until death is imminent – weeks or even days away – before
seeking hospice care, missing out on months of helpful care for themselves
and their loved ones.
Having the facts about hospice can help you and your loved ones make the
right decisions regarding end of life care and take advantage of the full
range of benefits hospice provides.
What is hospice?
Hospice is a model of compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting
illness or injury. With hospice care, a team of qualified professionals
work to provide medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual
support that meets a patient’s needs and wishes. At the center of
hospice and palliative care is the belief that each of us has the right
to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive
the necessary support to allow us to do so, according to the National
Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
Does hospice care hasten death?
No. A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management shows
that hospice does not hasten death but may actually yield extra time.
The three-year study involving 4,493 patients found that hospice patients
lived an average of 29 days longer than non-hospice patients. “Hospice
care is not "giving up." It is choosing to live life fully to
the end,” said Dr. Stephen R. Connor of the National Hospice and
Palliative Care Organization.
What services are provided?
Hospice services involve a comprehensive team approach to care. This qualified
team includes a physician, nurse, medical social worker, and nutritional,
pastoral and other counselors. Hospice patients also may receive home
health care services, medical supply deliveries and physical, occupational
and speech-language therapy.
What are the advantages of using long-term hospice?
The Hospice Foundation calls hospice care the "something more"
that can be done for the patient and the family when the illness cannot
be cured. It is a concept based on comfort-oriented care. Referral into
hospice is a movement into another mode of therapy, which may be more
appropriate for terminal care. Hospice care manages pain and symptoms
so patients can focus on being with loved ones and having some control
over how they spend their last months.
“People are unable to attend to deeply meaningful emotional, psychological
and spiritual issues when they’re suffering physically,’ said
Britt Olson, MD, Chief Medical Director of Agape Healthcare in Denver,
Colorado. “The earlier patients come onto hospice, the earlier we’re
able to manage their symptoms and free up their energy so that they can
attend to their priorities.”
How do I talk to my loved ones about hospice care?
End-of-life care can be a difficult subject to discuss with your loved
ones. However, having discussions with family members long before it becomes
a concern can greatly reduce stress when it is time that hospice is needed.
Having these discussions in advanced can allow patients to make an educated
decision and share their wishes as well as receive advice and input of
their loved ones.
Will my doctor recommend hospice?
Your physician may or may not mention the possibility of hospice. If they
do not, you should feel free to bring up the subject with your physician.
Communication is key. It is important that you and your doctor talk openly
and share your goals for maintaining quality of life. Also, anyone can
contact their local hospice provider and request hospice services at any
time. The hospice staff will then contact your doctor to determine if
hospice is appropriate and work with you to provide care.
How does hospice benefit families?
Hospice care provides services such as respite care and bereavement support
to families. For caregivers and families, hospice services don't end
with the patient's death. This support continues after a patient’s
death, providing bereavement and emotional support.
For more information about Hospice, contact OMC Riverways at 417-256-3133.