Wendell was a caring father and husband. When he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, the family knew this would be hard for everyone. By the time the doctors found the cancer in Wendell’s lungs, it had metastasized to his hip bone. Wendell made multiple trips back and forth between the hospital and a nursing home as his health steadily declined. Finally, Wendell chose to begin receiving hospice care in his nursing home so that he could have the best quality of life during his final days.
Are you or a loved one wondering what to expect from hospice care?
Most hospice organizations follow certain practices and routines.
Once an individual makes the decision is made to forgo further treatment of a terminal illness, the focus of care shifts to enabling the patient to live as fully and comfortably as possible during their end of life journey. It’s helpful to understand that most high-quality hospice organizations follow certain practices and routines in the delivery of care.
Begin with decisions about end of life preferences.
Choosing hospice care is an important decision that can greatly benefit the quality of life for a patient with a life-limiting illness while providing support to a patient’s family during a difficult time. But how can you be sure that you will receive care that reflects the way you would like to be treated during this critical time? No one but you should decide what is best for you.
It’s a simple process; have a conversation and then write down your wishes while you are in the right frame of mind and health to do so. You can avoid any misunderstanding and relieve the burden on your loved ones by capturing your wishes in a form called “advance directives.” There is an excellent guide to help you through this process called “Deciding Tomorrow Today.” Deciding Tomorrow Today is designed to guide you through these conversations, capture your intentions, and help your loved ones feel at peace with your decisions. Go to the free website www.decidingtomorrowtoday.org to download the free Toolkit.
Different individuals can make a referral for hospice care.
While most referrals to hospice come from physicians, other people may refer a patient to hospice such as case managers, social workers, family members, friends, or clergy. Patients are also able to refer themselves. There is an advantage of signing up for hospice care as soon as eligibility is determined. The sooner the hospice team can begin to help the patient and family, the sooner you can take advantage of services that will improve the quality of life and reduce physical, social, and emotional burdens.
First, there is an important initial meeting.
Once a patient agrees to hospice care, the team arranges for a specialist to meet with the family as soon as possible. This hospice consultation can happen in the location of the family’s choosing, including their home, the hospital, or other convenient location.
The purpose of the visit is to complete a comprehensive assessment to fully understand the patient’s and family’s goals and preferences. From that point forward, patients and families have the support of a full team of experts that address your needs:
• Physical: to live as fully, comfortably, alert, and pain-free as possible
• Emotional and Social: to help with stress, anxiety, hopelessness, or depression
• Practical: to cope with issues with finances, job-related difficulties, insurance, or legal obligations
• Spiritual: to compassionately address fears, consider deep questions, empathize, and find the emotional strength needed during this challenging time.
A Plan of Care guides the actions of the team.
Using the information from the assessment, an interdisciplinary group of hospice professionals develops a Plan of Care, spelling out what the family can expect from in-home hospice care. Using the plan, the team coordinates regular nursing visits, assistance with personal care such as bathing, and emotional and spiritual support visits according to the Plan of Care.
Hospice provides needed medications and equipment.
All prescriptions related to pain and comfort management covered by the hospice benefit are delivered to the home, along with durable medical equipment and supplies such as hospital bed, monitors, nebulizers, walkers, and more. In general, hospice will assist in any way it can to make home care as convenient and safe as possible.
Choosing hospice is not always a permanent decision.
Hospice isn't always a permanent choice. For example, if a patient’s kidneys are failing, they might choose hospice rather than continuing with dialysis. But they can still change their mind, stop hospice care, and start back on treatments. Other people may get better unexpectedly and quit the service with the option of returning later.
What happens during the final days at home.
When a patient begins to show symptoms that their final days are near, the team will adjust the level of home visits to meet the needs of the patient and their family. Once the patient passes, the staff will assist with final details and paperwork and provide bereavement support to the family.
Am I doing the right thing?
The fact that you are exploring hospice is a positive sign. It means you are considering what would be best for a terminally-ill person and their family. For answers to your questions, additional information, or to discuss a hospice referral, call the Nathan Adelson Hospice admission team at 702.733.0320.
We can be your trusted partner
The philosophy of Nathan Adelson Hospice is to provide support and care so that people with a life-limiting illness may live as fully and comfortably as possible. As southern Nevada’s hospice of choice, we demonstrate an unwavering commitment to make sure that no one in our care ends the journey of life alone, afraid or in pain.