HOW IS HOSPICE DIFFERENT THAN OTHER CARE?
A person with a life-limiting illness needs a special kind of care in order to remain at home or in a nursing home, surrounded by loved ones. Hospice provides specialized care to address physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs so that patients can live each day to its fullest. Patients receive medical equipment, such as a hospital bed, wheelchair, walker, or other equipment to maximize independence and dignity.
Hospice treats the patient rather than the disease. It focuses on making patients as comfortable as possible, with full attention given to managing symptoms, such as pain or nausea.
Hospice is not just for the patient. Loved ones and caregivers need support and care as well. Hospice offers a variety of services for families before and after a patient’s death. Hospice deals with the emotional, social, and spiritual impact of the disease on the patient and on the patient’s family and friends.
Hospice is more than nursing care. Specially trained nurse’s aides assist with personal care, such as bathing and shaving; social workers help with counseling and end-of-life planning; and chaplains offer spiritual support for those who want it. Trained volunteers are at the heart of hospice and are available for visits with patients to read, play games, take patients to appointments, or sit and chat. Volunteers also give caregivers respite time to run errands, go to church, or just get away from patient care for a time. Patients and their families decide which services they need or want.
Hospice is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance plans. All medications relating to the patient’s terminal condition, medical equipment such as a wheelchair or hospital bed, and most medical supplies are often included at no cost to the patient. This can be a tremendous savings for anyone entitled to these benefits.
Hospice can be provided to patients in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Hospice is a supplement to nursing home care, not a substitute. Hospice nurses trained in pain management and have education and experience in symptom management that other nurses may not have.
Hospice can be discontinued at any time if a patient’s condition improves or if the patient desires.