Hospice care is a distinct type of care that is mostly focused on improving the quality of life for people experiencing advanced, life-limiting illnesses. Hospice care aims to provide compassionate care for people who are nearing the last phases of an incurable disease so they may live the rest of their lives comfortably as possible. Many facilities like Hospice San Diego aim to provide only the best, compassionate care using patient-centered approach.
The philosophy behind hospice care accepts death as the final stage of life: it acknowledges life but does not try to speed up or delay death. Hospice care attend to the person and the symptoms of the disease, instead of simply treating the disease itself. Professionals work together to ensure that a person’s last days are spent with dignity and care, surrounded by their loved ones. In addition, hospice care is family-focused—meaning the patient and their family is included in any decision-making involved.
Hospice care: when should it start?
Hospice care is necessary when a disease, like advanced-stage cancer gets to the point where treatment is no longer possible. Hospice care should be used only when a person’s life expectancy is only around 6 months or less if the illness runs its natural course. People with advanced stage cancer should speak with their family members and doctor to decide when they can get started with hospice care.
According to studies, hospice care is often not started soon enough. In some cases, the patient, doctor, or family member will refrain hospice because they think it means defeat, or that they have ‘given up’. It’s important to understand that it is possible to leave hospice and continue active cancer treatment any time. Hospice care, according to Hospice San Diego, hopes to give patients a quality life and to make the best of each day during the last stages of their illness.
Sometimes, doctors do not bring up the topic of hospice care, so the patient or family member might decide to initiate the conversation themselves. If treatment is no longer possible and a patient has run out of other options, they can ask their doctor about hospice.
What services are offered in a hospice care?
All hospice providers are required to offer specific types of services. But they usually have different attituded towards service, staffing patterns, and types of services provided.
Palliative care and symptom control
Palliative care is also known by other names such as symptom management, supportive care, or comfort care. It can be given separately from hospice care (for example, if you’re still undergoing active cancer treatment), but it’s usually a part of hospice care if the cancer is no longer being treated because it has advanced too far along. Palliative care doesn’t involve treatment of the cancer itself, rather it is used to prevent or treat symptoms and side effects during the early stages.
Palliative care takes into consideration how the cancer experience impacts the person and help to relieve symptoms, pain, and stress. Patients are given options and allows them and their caregivers to be involved in planning their care. It provides an assurance that all their needs are being met. Professionals that partake in the palliative care team can help determine and manage any mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual issues that may arise.
The ultimate goal of incorporating palliative care into hospice services is to provide more comfort to patients while allowing them to enjoy the last stage of their life. With this, pain, discomfort, nausea, and other side effects to treatment are managed to ensure that the patient feels as good as possible yet are alert enough to make important decisions.
Home care and in-patient hospice services
While most hospice care services, like Hospice San Diego, is focused in the home, there are instances when patients need to be in a hospital, an in-patient hospice center, or extended care facility. A home hospice team manages and arranges in-patient care and continues to provide care for patients. Patients can go back to in-home care whenever they and their family are ready.
Because people have different spiritual needs and religious affiliations, spiritual care is arranged to meet a patient’s specific needs. This might include helping them look at what the meaning of death is for them, helping them bid their last farewells, or assisting them with certain religious ceremonies or rituals.
Hospice nurses and/or social workers set up regularly scheduled meetings to keep family members updated on a patient’s condition and what to expect. These meetings gives everyone a chance to share their thoughts and feelings, talk about what’s happening, what’s needed, and be prepared for death and the process of dying. Family members can receive great support and stress relief from these meetings. They will also be given daily updates by the nurses or nursing assistants and caregivers during routine visits.
Hospice team members arrange and supervises all care 24/7. They are responsible for ensuring all involved services share information. This includes, but is not limited to, the doctor, inpatient facility, and other community professionals (pharmacists, clergy, and funeral directors). Patients and their caregivers are persuaded to get in touch with the hospice team in case of emergencies, at any time of the day. There’s always someone ready to take the call whenever the need for help arises. Hospice care assures patients that they and their families are not alone and that they can get all the help they need at any time.
Some hospice, like Hospice San Diego, provides respite care to give friends and family a break from caregiving. Respite care can be granted in around 5-day periods of time. During this period, the patient with cancer is cared for either in nursing homes, hospitals, or in the hospice facility. Families can organize a mini-vacation, attend special events, or simply just get much-needed rest at home while the patient is being cared for in an in-patient environment.
After the death of a patient comes the bereavement period. Hospice care team work together with the surviving loved ones and help them through the grieving period. Professional volunteers, counselors or clergy members provide support to survivors via phone calls, visits, and support groups.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.