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Riverways Hospice

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.