One of the greatest fears widely expressed by the Americans is dying in pain. This is where the importance of hospice care takes into place. Hospices provide care for terminally ill patients until their last breath. They partner with health care professionals to provide the needed care in different places. While there are facilities that concentrate on hospice care, majority of these professionals come to patient’s homes.  Hospice care’s main goal is to provide dignity, respect, and care to alleviate any form of pain felt during the end-of-life journey.

A lot of people think that hospice centers let patients die alone not being surrounded by loved ones. They feel that death in such facilities is without privacy, self-worth, and that personal, religious, cultural, or spiritual request are neglected. This is the underlying reason what research say that 80% of Americans would not consider this type of care for last minute concerns.

How can the situation be improved? There should be proper awareness of hospice care in the society. By improving people’s understanding of this end of life care option, additional support would be gained. In addition, the public must realize the importance of this care and more training is needed to improve hospice care.

Local hospices could also take action in improving the situation by outreach programs within their local communities, offering free home and day services. Such activity would raise the community’s awareness and take off the misconceptions.

As the elderly population in the U.S. increases rapidly, the more we need hospice care. The decisions about death and dying should not be avoided, it should be faced and planned ahead. By preparing for legal and financial preparations, both patients and their loved ones would be alleviated with the pain associated in this unique life-to-end journey.

Hospice Care, How it Works?

When you or your family member is in need of a hospice care, the first thing you need to do is to discuss it with the hospice organization in your state. They will be able to explain to you the process and the necessary requirements needed. Once you are qualified, your doctor will help you create a plan suited to your needs. This includes the services that your Medicare covers. The plan will include the location where you will stay, the type of medication, treatments and other services.

hospiceThere will be a team who will conduct and manage the plan. They are your doctors, nurses, physical therapists, counselors, social workers, aides, volunteers and of course your family. The team will be ready and available whenever you need their services. The services also include counseling with the family members who are having a hard time dealing with the situation.

Your regular doctor is the attending medical professional who will supervise your care plan. What makes the hospice care plan a good one is that it allows you to stay in the comfort of your home. If ever there is a need for you to stay in a hospital, like the need for equipments and facilities, your team will arrange everything for you.

Hospice care is only proposed for people with 6 months or less to live. It is designed to keep the patient close to their family and his home. The patient can still acquire the services of the hospice care even if his life extends over 6 months. This will of course need the recommendation of the attending physician.  However, if your health improves or you completely recover, you no longer need the hospice care.


Hospice Care Availability

Hospice care is accessible to anyone, regardless of what type of insurance or financial resources the patient is using. Home hospice care is cheaper than care in hospitals or nursing homes. This is because affordable technology is used which can easily be monitored and facilitated even by family and friends. For most occasions, the cost of hospice care is fully paid by the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, the patient will be given a daily allowance and pays all medical services, medical equipment, medications, as well as treatments and supplies.

hospiceThere are other health insurance companies who offer hospice care and services. Medicaid also offers the same services like other private insurance companies. You can check the insurance plan you have regarding the insurance benefits, requirements and deductibles. For those who are not covered by Medicare, Medicaid or other private insurance companies, they can avail of free hospice services through the donations and contributions from a community or a foundation. There are also programs who only charge a minimum hospice cost if the patient has a low income

Hospice benefits are provided on a per day (per diem) basis to the hospice provider. The hospice benefit is very helpful for those under its care since it covers all services, medications and equipment related to the person’s needs. The patient and his family can save a lot.  Medicare offers hospice consultation for those who want to know about the details of their hospice care, it’s a one-time consultation only. Ask someone who knows about hospice care, specifically those who are connected with health insurance companies. You may even discuss your options with their director for clarifications.

When Hospice Care is Needed

It is very hard to accept for anyone to hear that a member of our family already needs hospice care. But as we all know, people age and there will come a time that they will no longer be able to take care of themselves. This type of care gives the family a relief in taking care of their loved ones who near the end of their lives. This can improve the total well being for whatever time is staying and allows a person to die with pride.

Hospice-CareIt will be hard to entrust your beloved to other people’s care specially when we know nothing about what to anticipate and what things to ask. The hospital will provide the necessary information needed about how the process works and the things to be done. Care can generally be provided in a patient’s or family associates member’s house, or can be carried out in another type of residence or residing service, such as an helped residing service or elderly good care facility.

Every individual has his own needs and may differ from any other individual. That is why hospice care must also have different sets of services that will be offered.  Some people may want or need 24 / 7 monitoring by a skilled nurse, whereas others prefer to be left on their own with close relatives as much as possible with only necessary tasks performed by relevant personnel on an as-needed basis.  Another factor that may change the kind of solutions offered is the time period that a person is under hospital proper care.

The truth will always hurt us. To see our beloved be in a certain situation where he /she no longer as strong as she was before. Most people don’t like to think of what it means when it is suggested that a beloved conversion to hospital proper care, it’s important to note that this type of proper care usually provides for the most sensible and relaxed way for an individual to spend his or her last days.

Hospice Care Benefits

Hospice care is a philosophy of care that embraces comfort and self-respect at the end of life. It is a complete form of care, meaning that it addresses the physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs of the affected person and their family. Hospice care is a Medicare benefit that has been shown to reduce healthcare involvement and frequent hospitalizations. It doesn’t prolong death and it doesn’t advance it. Hospice instead improves the total well being for the affected person as they near the end of life, while offering useful support and information for family members. Some family members feel strongly about when it’s the right time to schedule hospice care, while others are more hesitant. Let’s discuss many of the benefits to hospice care so that you can make an informed decision for your beloved.

Comprehensive Care – Hospice includes a group of professionals: physicians, social workers, nurses, home health aides, chaplains and volunteers. This helps the affected person and their family get the personalized care that they need, as well as answers and support. This dynamic group also makes sure that no needs are left uncared for.

hospice_careContinuous Care – The clock never stops on hospice care. Care is offered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Families always have access to care for their beloved and patients never have to be left unattended. This means that caregivers can take the breaks they need while knowing that their beloved is cared for.

Reduced Expenses – Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance covers the cost of hospice care. Without it, family members may be responsible for paying for medications, healthcare supplies and healthcare equipment.

Fewer Hospitalizations and Treatments – Hospice care can avoid the need for unnecessary treatments and hospitalizations. When an individual is brought to the hospital, the goal is generally to ‘save’ the affected person. However, when end of life is near and doesn’t need to be prolonged with healthcare involvement, hospice care is very useful and will support the affected person and family’s wishes.

Questions in Hospice Care

According to a research by the Post, one in six hospices in the United States did not provide crisis care to their dying patients this year. “The lack of such care,” had written Post reporters Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating, “suggests that some hospice care outfits are stinting on medical care, according to hospital professionals. Inspection and issue information, meanwhile, illustrate the discomfort of sufferers who have been left without proper care.” And, indeed, Whoriskey and Keating offer some experiences about failures, starting with 85-year-old Ying Tai Choi, a Tampa, Florida, woman whose nurse abandoned her an hour before she died.

Hospice-CareWhat gives the Post’s research value beyond its immediate impact, though, is that the document submitted the data source it used to carry out its reporting. The Post says it examined Medical health insurance payments information for more than 2,500 hospice care companies as well as “an internal Medical health insurance count of medical care in sufferers near death and examined complaint records at hundreds of hospices.” By showing its work, the document has provided valuable leads for follow-up experiences by news organizations across the country. According to the data source, 16 percent of 43 hospice care facilities serving 22,865 sufferers in Massachusetts reported providing no crisis care this year. That percentage is right around the national average, though it is higher than any other New England state.

Under Medical health insurance guidelines, a hospice must be able to offer crisis care to its critically ill sufferers, which the Post tells us, is “either ongoing medical care at home or an inpatient bed at a hospital.” The Post is careful to point out that the mere fact that a service did not offer crisis care in a given year is not evidence that there’s anything wrong. It’s possible that none of its sufferers needed it. A further explanation: The lack of crisis care does not necessarily indicate a breach of the guidelines. But hospital professionals say it is unlikely that larger hospices had no sufferers who required such care. In other words, the data source provides questions, not answers, precisely the information news companies’ need for follow-up reports at the local level. Investigative reporting is expensive and time-intensive. The Post’s hospice care story provides reporters with a great jump start.

Care and Dignity in Hospice Care

The end of life should be lived with as much convenience and joy as each day before. It is a moment when the discomfort from a serious illness is replaced with feelings of love from close relatives and care providers. Hospice care neither speeds up nor postpones death. It is about enhancing time people share together. “Patients and their loved ones as well as doctors, choose hospice for many reasons and the key word is choice, placing the decisions in the hands of patients and close relatives,” says community liaison, Kristen Lorenz. “We see our services as a gift of physical, emotional and spiritual support with care and dignity.”

hospice_careWhat is hospice care? It’s a philosophy of modern care for the control of signs associated with an individual’s diagnosed medical problem. The care is provided occasionally and as needed wherever the individual lives, including someone’s house, assisted living facility, long-term care center or hospital. “We try to emphasize that getting hospice care does not mean giving up hope,” says Lorenz. “We change the focus to one of making the most of life. The goal is to recover the essence of life through pain management and management of symptoms, so family members can remember special periods and create even more of them.”

According to Lorenz, only some Americans eligible for hospice care coverage take advantage of the benefit, 27% to be exact. Of that getting hospice care, the average time frame is only 9.6 days. Such proper care is 100% covered by Medicare Part A, State health programs and Veterans Administration benefits based upon an individual’s diagnosis and life span. While most often utilized for those with six months or less to live, there are times when it is available for longer. “It’s truly remarkable that so few utilize one of the best entitlements we are provided,” she adds.


Hospice Care and Your Loved One

The very thought of hiring hospice care for a loved one is scary. Unfortunately, many family members put themselves through much more pain and pressure because they don’t want to admit that a loved one needs hospice. They continue to care for them and deny the fact that the end may be near. While hospice care is not a decision that should be taken lightly, it could offer much help, support and comfort for your family. You may want to consider hospice care if your loved one:

  • Has a chronic disease or sickness that will shorten their life
  • Has a condition that is incurable
  • Wants to spend their last days as comfortable as possible in a setting of their choice
  • Wants close relatives to participate in their end-of-life care
  • Wants to terminate treatment because it is more of a pressure than comfort, or because it is no longer effective
  • Was given 6 months or less to live

hospice_careIt’s important to keep in mind that hospice care is available for individuals who are in the last stages of an illness, not just the final days or hours of their death. They may have several more months to live, but they want to spend this time in their own home with loved ones. A hospice care agency may be contacted by your family members and a physician’s order will be arranged for final approval. Once the care staff receives approval, proper care can begin. Some family members believe that by choosing this kind of care, they are “giving up.” This is not true in any way. The main goal of hospice is to keep the patient comfortable as they go through the final stages of their sickness. Any signs of distress are immediately tended to, but sickness itself is no longer treated. Your loved one’s body will start to shut down over time, but with this kind of care, they will be kept comfortable and in the care of someone at all times.

Hospice Care Experience

The stained-glass wall in the church of the Community Hospice House represents a menagerie of animals quietly experiencing the woodlands, water and air. It’s a field full of life. And life is the focus in this place where individuals come to die. Dee Pringle’s spouse, Gene, spent his last two weeks of life here four years ago. Her spouse had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and was getting treatment at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Dee, a retired instructor who lives in Amherst, was looking after him in their house. “And I was excellent,” she said. “I was really excellent.”

hospicecareBut as Gene’s illness developed, his physicians suggested hospice care. For three months, hospice nursing staff offered support and proper care to Gene at home. Then they suggested a move to the 10-bed hospice house run by Home Health & Hospice Care, a charitable organization in Merrimack. And just like that, the pressure of medical care moved to the professionals, Pringle said. “My part was just to be with him.” She calls it “magical.””Those last few days that are valuable, the medical parts are being taken care of and you don’t even have to think about that because the qualified individuals have taken over.” It was also a great comfort to her spouse, she said. “He could rest. “Pringle can’t say enough about the services offered at the property, from food supervisors who serve residents’ wants and needs, to visits from musicians, therapy dogs and Reiki massage treatment practitioners.

She still gets together with members of a bereavement support team she met after her spouse’s death and visits some of the per month academic programs the organization offers. Her son, Frank, said having the professional employees at the hospice house take over the medical care of his dad in his last days was a convenience to the entire family. Home Health & Hospice Care has its origins in a women’s organization that took care of sick employees and their children in Nashua in the late Nineteenth century. The Good Cheer Society became one of the first viewing health professional organizations in the country.

Comfort and Support in Hospice Care

While most hospice services are designed to care for sufferers in their own homes, associates may provide care in assisted living or skilled nursing features if appropriate. Some hospice solutions also have their own features or are associated with hospice programs, such as Scripps. Scripps’ hospice care ensures that Scripps patients have continuity of care. The hospice group continues to help coordinate proper care with primary physicians as well as specialists as may be required.

Hospice benefits not only sufferers, but their close relatives and friends as well. Team members provide support for those facing the loss of a loved one. In addition to offering bereavement services after a patient passes, hospice can be there to help loved ones with the grieving process.

4.1.1Most insurance companies, such as Medicare, will cover hospice for qualified sufferers. Although many sufferers are older, hospice care is available to sufferers of any age, including children who have a terminal diagnosis with limited life span. Generally, a physician must agree that a patient’s life span is less than six months in order for hospice care to be covered; however, because it is nearly impossible to predict exactly how long a patient will live, some sufferers may receive hospice services beyond six months.

Like hospice care, modern care also concentrates on offering support and comfort to very ill sufferers, concentrates on the whole person and evaluates the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. Unlike hospice services, however, modern care is offered to sufferers who are still being treated for their illnesses and are not necessarily near the end of life; in fact, many make a full recovery. Palliative care is provided in parallel with curative treatments and can be a tremendous resource. A patent with cancer, for example, may receive modern care to help with the side effects of chemotherapy treatment or can evaluate and treat pain.