September 2017 | Wesley Hospice

When You Should Start Thinking About Hospice Care

It’s never too early to begin thinking about end-of-life (EOL) care. Delaying the conversation means that families must make heart-wrenching decisions during a time when the stress may be too much to bear. Starting the conversation about hospice care begins with knowing what hospice care offers and dispelling the myths about what happens when a person is under hospice care. Here are a few tips to help you begin your discussion.

First, it helps to know how hospice works. Hospice uses a team approach that includes doctors, nurses, social workers and others to provide comprehensive care to people with life-limiting illnesses and their families. There are hospice care services that are available in health care communities, or in the home. The purpose of hospice is not to cure an illness, but to provide pain management and compassionate care that allows the individual who is ill to die with dignity.

Thinking about hospice care before you need to can make EOL planning easier. If you or a loved one should develop a life-limiting condition, and a physician tells you that there is no cure, you will already know what to expect from hospice care. It’s also important to note that hospice care is covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Many private insurances also cover hospice care.

Hospice has been beneficial for many families.  It’s not unusual to hear families praise hospice. Hospice staff will go the extra mile to take care of the ill person and provide supportive services for the family. Hospice volunteers help with everything from sitting with a patient while the family takes a much-needed break, to running errands.

Learn all you can about hospice programs in your area. Share the information with your family. Have the discussion about hospice now. When a family member needs it, all a doctor will have to do is make a referral for hospice care, and everything else will be in place.

Understanding How Our Hospice Care Works

If you have a family member who has been referred for hospice care, it’s important to have a good understanding of how this important end of life (EOL) service can help the patient as well as their family. We’re here to provide quality care designed to ensure your loved one’s final days are as comfortable as possible.

We offer compassionate EOL services in Columbus, as well as in communities throughout Central Ohio. Patients will receive emotional support and the important medical care and pain management they need during their final days and weeks. Additionally, making sure that patients get the spiritual comfort and help they need, regardless of faith, is something we take very seriously.

We offer quality EOL services for patients age 18 and above who have been certified by their doctor as having a life expectancy of 6 months or less. We have an experienced team of hospice professionals who will work closely with doctors and caregivers in order to develop a personalized care program. We also strive to make sure that the entire family will receive the support and help they need through this emotional and challenging time.

Your hospice care team will generally consist of a medical director, social worker, RN case manager, spiritual counselor, bereavement coordinator, administrative staff, hospice aid and volunteer coordinator. This caring team will work to keep the patient comfortable during their final days.

Whether your loved one is at home or in a care facility, quality hospice care can help them during their last months, weeks or days. We concentrate on ensuring quality of life during the final stages of your loved one’s life. Hospice care can also help caregivers and other family members manage the emotional challenges that are common when dealing with caring for a loved one who is dying.

Things to Know Before You Look for Hospice Care

When an individual is seriously ill or unable to provide self-care, nothing is more comforting that having a caregiver who is patient, loving, and who has the care recipient’s best interest in mind. However, most people would agree that caring for an ill person for an extended period can result in a caregiver neglecting his or her own care. Family caregivers often experience stress, illness, and burnout after months or years of self-neglect, which is why hospice care is such an important service for families.

When should families consider hospice care?

Hospice care may be an appropriate option when a life-limiting illness results in multiple hospitalizations, or when a health care provider has told you or a loved one that a condition is progressing, and there is no cure.  Hospice care should be considered when caregiver burnout or declining health means that an individual can no longer provide effective care for a terminally-ill loved one.

What you should know before you look for hospice care?

It’s not difficult to set up hospice care, once the physician makes a referral for hospice care. Care begins within a day or two after the referral.

Hospice agencies offer care at home, in long-term care facilities, and at hospice centers.

Hospice care is typically covered by Medicaid and Medicare.  Most private insurances also cover hospice care.

Hospice care is not meant to cure the person receiving care. Hospice provides compassionate care and pain management that enables families and their ill loved ones to make the most of their time together.

Hospice also cares for the family. Hospice staff and volunteers can offer tips for reducing stress, link families to resources, and provide bereavement counseling.

Our hospice service offers on-call care 24 hours-a-day. A nurse can visit the home to provide assistance with medical issues, and volunteers are available to sit with a loved one while family members run errands or take needed breaks.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Hospice Care Center

Many people don’t fully understand hospice services. In fact, to some people, hospice means a place that people go to die.  Rather than a place, think of hospice is a system of compassionate and comprehensive care for people with life-limiting illness and their loved ones. Services may be provided at a hospice center, health care facility or in the home.

Hospice is not only for the individual who is ill; a hospice medical team creates an environment that helps families and seriously ill loved ones make the most of their time together.

Hospice provides supportive counseling for families and links them to needed resources. Hospice also reduces the financial burden for families. Both Medicare and Medicaid provide coverage for hospice care and most private insurances cover hospice services.

Even if hospice care is not an immediate need for you or your family, it is never too early to discuss future care needs. It helps to know if hospice may be the solution if you or a loved require care for a life-limiting illness before the need arises. Therefore, consider the following tips for questions to ask about a hospice center:

Will the hospice center provide care for me or my family member at home?

If receiving care at home, will I or my family s be able to contact hospice staff for in-home assistance if there is a 3:00 a.m. emergency?

How is the cost of care covered?

When hospice provides care at a facility what types of care will the patient receive?

What is expected of family members when hospice care is provided in the home?

In addition to these questions, you will want to know if the center has a good reputation. The hospice care center you choose should be able to provide references from families who have used the center’s services.


Hospice Scams to Watch Out For

An important part of researching quality hospice care, is to make sure that your loved one isn’t the victim of a scam. Unfortunately, scams are prevalent when it comes to end of life services. But we have helpful tips, so you’ll know exactly what to look for in a hospice provider.

An easy way for a provider to scam patients is to simply cut back on services. This can be by reducing the number of visits by a home health care aide, or the RN case manager. In some cases, the RN will simply call the patient or the patient’s family to get an update. This is in no way an acceptable substitution for an in-person visit. A hospice provider might also reduce other important services, such as the availability of counselors, bereavement staff, chaplains and social workers in an effort to reduce costs and make greater profits.

Another troubling way that some providers scam their clients is by cutting back on medications. Pain medications can be very expensive, and by not providing the amount of medication prescribed by the doctor, unscrupulous providers can pocket a lot of money. The same is true with oxygen, by limiting the patient’s access to oxygen, the provider can save money.

Sometimes, an unethical hospice will refuse to provide round the clock care for patients who are in crisis. Your loved one deserves compassionate care by a hospice provider that is committed to ensuring quality end of life services. Be sure to ask questions relating to these scams to protect the people close to you.