When Is Hospice Care Appropriate?
Hospice care is appropriate when a person will no longer benefit from curative treatment and life expectancy is approximately six months if the disease runs its normal course. The decision for someone to enter a hospice program will be a joint decision between the person, his or her family members, his or her primary care physician, and the hospice medical director.
For a person to get the most out of hospice care, it is important that it begin at the right time. It is too early if the person is still seeking a cure for his or her illness. It is too late if death is very near and there is little time left for hospice care to make a contribution to the quality of life during the final precious months.
When considering hospice, a person should first have the agreement and cooperation of his or her personal physician. Second, the person should understand that he or she has a terminal illness and that hospice will offer palliative or supportive care rather than curative care. Palliative care is focused primarily on comfort from pain and on keeping other symptoms from reducing the patient’s quality of life. Finally, if the person desires to be cared for in his or her home, it is helpful to have a family member or close friend who is willing to be the primary caregiver. Alternately, the client should have a plan for how personal care will be provided.
If at any time the client decides to change his or her approach from comfort-oriented care to a treatment or a curative approach, he or she may revoke the Medicare or Medicaid hospice benefits and reinstate regular benefits.
Our trained bereavement counselor is available to help family and friends of our clients handle their grief. Bereavement services are available for up to 13 months after the death of a loved one. Our counselor also holds a community memorial service once a year to honor the memory of loved ones who have died. This memorial is open to all community members, not just those whose loved one was a participant in the hospice program. These ceremonies are planned during the holiday season because this is a time when many people struggle with their feelings of loss. Please refer to the events calendar for the date of the current year’s memorial service.
Jefferson Healthcare Hospice has developed additional programs to help clients and their caregivers obtain services that provide extended supportive care and personal services. These optional programs are called Comfort Care and Compassionate Care.
When it is determined to be helpful for pain or symptom management, the case manager may recommend one of our complimentary therapies. These currently include
- massage therapy,
- therapeutic music,
- therapeutic touch, and
- Reiki therapy.
Compassionate Care helps support our clients’ goals of remaining at home by offering additional caregiver support to the family or friend caregivers. We use our limited donated funds, as available, to provide caregiver support as needed in the patient’s final days.