Hospice care in eldercare is a service that provides end of life care in the comfort of the home or in a hospice setting. This setting may be a nursing home or even a hospital setting. The role of hospice allows the patient to have control and direct their care regarding end of life. It allows an individual to have peace of mind, dignity and comfort on their terms.

Hospice services are provided by professionals and volunteers. They provide medical, psychological, emotional and spiritual support to the patient and family members. These individuals support the family to maintain pain relief and symptom management to promote comfort so an individual can remain as alert as they choose to be.

To qualify for hospice services, an individual must no longer be able to benefit from any curative treatments, and have been determined by a physician to have less than 6 months or less to live. Patients and their families are an important focus of hospice services. Families are offered support and grief counseling for 18 months after the loss of a loved one, should they want those services.

Choosing hospice services is a very emotional and stressful time for a family. First you must determine the setting you will receive hospice services. Home, a skilled nursing facility, an assisted living facility or a hospice unit are the options to consider.

Here are a few questions to ask when considering hospice services:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you accept our insurance as full payment for the services we will receive?
  • Is there a case manager of a supervisor that will over see and determine the care that will be provided?
  • Is there an emergency plan in place, should a power outage or other disaster occur?
  • Do you have volunteers that will visit with the patient?
  • Are you accredited by The Joint Commission? This is an accreditation that requires that hospice company to be held to a national standard for patient safety and care.
  • Who conducts that initial visit? Are feedback and information provided by the family, as well as the patient‚Äôs doctor included in the initial visit?
  • Is an individualized plan of care developed for my loved one? Will you give us information regarding how often my loved one will be seen? Home long the visits will be? And who will be seeing my loved one?
  • Is durable medical equipment, such as oxygen and a wheel chair be covered by hospice services, if needed for my loved one?
  • Do you assist with finding financial assistance with the things you do not cover under your services?
  • Do you have a list of references, both professional and those that have used your services?
  • Do you provide service during holidays, weekends and nights, if needed?
  • Is there someone on call to answer any questions or concerns I may have?

Once you have chosen the service, it is important to start preparing your loved one and yourself for the next few days, weeks or months. It is important to assist your loved one to communicate to you and other family members what is important to them. Encourage them to share their feelings, things that that were grateful for, things they want to be forgiven for, or even give them an opportunity to forgive someone for a perceived wrong.

This is a time of contemplation, to express the unsaid things we never could bring ourselves to say or something that is meaningful to others. It is a time to say goodbye.

Some individuals want to leave a memory for others, some want to write letters or create a video for future events. Some want to leave the family a history of important events that occurred in their lives, so that it may be passed on to future generations.

As your loved one begins to actively die, many family members choose to remain at the bedside of their loved one. Many family members want to show caring, love and support. At this time, it is important for all to know that hearing is the last sense to leave. So do not hesitate to discuss past and future events.

There are moments, during this process that your loved one may briefly awaken. Take time to enjoy and say your final goodbyes.

Many families find it comforting to sing, pray or read prayers or their loved one’s favorite poem or book. Partaking in these activities is as comforting for the patient as it is for the family.

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