By: Morgan Fezza, Care Manager
For years there have been many misconceptions and myths surrounding Hospice Care and End of Life situations.
What many people do not know is how being proactive in receiving the correct comfort measures can make all the difference in your loved one’s transition into hospice care.
When somebody we love shows signs of terminal illness and is later diagnosed with a terminal condition (typically six months or less), proactive measures can change the trajectory of how we honor their wishes and how they will pass.
Common Hospice Misconceptions
A common misconception is that hospice is an absolute last resort – this is not accurate. We know that when a hospice is selected and the patient appropriately evaluated, their symptoms and disease progression can be managed effectively. This keeps the individual comfortable through the many stages of the disease progression. The individual is not unmanaged and hopefully, they remain asymptomatic and ensure their wishes are met.
Another misconception is that hospice is just for the individual. Although the main focus of hospice is the individual, the hospice team supports the family members during and after the patient transitions.
The Hospice Team
The hospice team will consist of a clinical team, a social worker, a chaplain, a bereavement counselor, and often an admissions team. This ensures full support can be offered during an often difficult and sensitive time, and even up to 12 months after the fact to cover all the “firsts” without their loved one. Having a social worker to help navigate difficult family dynamics, discuss benefits as well as other services will ease the stress of the situation.
Creating a Solid Plan of Action in Advance
Hospice is covered by Medicare and Medicaid and typically only offers supplemental care, so most of the time an additional caregiver does need to be present. Often, we see that families are turning to hospice when somebody is in crisis, and this doesn’t leave time to create a solid plan of action for the family members. A Plan of Action may include but is not limited to:
- Where will the patient receive Hospice care if they are not eligible for an “Inpatient” stay at the Hospice Facility?
- Who is the Primary Caregiver?
- What are the patient’s wishes; can the family accommodate them?
When this is left to “last resort” the real possibility of confusion, family tension, and important conversations will be missed and rushed due to time restrictions and stress.
Families will need time to receive proper education on the different levels of care hospice offers as well as work with the hospice team to discuss wishes and work on Advanced Care Planning and making the proper arrangements for their loved one to start Hospice care.
Prepare for the Different Levels of Hospice Care
- Hospice Care at Home: Routine Visits to the home to care for the patient and assist in their transition and provide appropriate medical equipment at no charge.
- Continuous Comfort Care: a type of 24-hour care offered by some hospices when a patient has symptoms that compromises their usual baseline and deem them unmanaged.
- Inpatient Care: When symptoms cannot be managed in the home, the patient is put into a facility where 24/7 support is offered until the patient is managed and can be returned home. Most are very accommodating and include home-like décor and are supported by acute care facilities.
- Respite: During respite care, patients spend a short time in a Medicare-certified inpatient hospice setting so their primary caregivers can take a break. Respite care hospice support helps caregivers avoid burnout and provide care more efficiently. Overall, giving yourself time to discuss hospice, gives you and your loved one’s time to make important decisions and create a solid plan of action care plan that will give dignity and quality of life back to your loved one. It alleviates family tensions and leaves a more functional and sound family dynamic behind while ensuring your loved one has peace of mind the folks they are leaving behind are well taken care of.
If you or someone you care about needs additional support to help cope, The Option Group is here to help. Please contact our professional care management team for assistance.
About The Option Group: Founded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers serves families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for an individual who needs assistance due to aging, dementia, disability, or serious illness. Their skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of quality resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 / 610-885-8899 (PA) / or 302-858-6449 (DE).