Compassionate Planning for Patients and Family Members
At Shining Light Hospice Care, we understand just how challenging this time of life can be. It’s immensely hard on patients, but it can also be filled with struggle for family members, too. We offer help and support during these difficult times, delivering a wide range of services, including coordinated care and support for patients and family members customized to meet specific needs and requirements.
For many patients, hospice care begins with in-home care to help manage medical symptoms, pain, and discomfort. Our services can include many different aspects, each tailored to the individual’s unique care needs and goals.
We believe in taking a customized approach for each patient, and that begins by offering options to patients and their families. You can easily set our care goals, determine how we deliver care, and what level of clinical, emotional, and social support is needed.
Contact us today to learn more about end-of-life planning and how to support patients and loved ones during this time.
Planning for End of Life
Few people find the prospect of discussing and planning for the end of their life easy or enjoyable. However, it is a critical consideration. Hospice care can provide compassionate treatment options that help ease the journey through these final weeks, days, and hours.
For patients, the most secure way to ensure that your wishes are carried out is to create an advance directive. It is similar to a living will in some ways, but essentially directs family members on what actions to take and which to avoid in the event the patient is no longer able to actively plan their care. An advance directive is a legal document that speaks for a patient when they’re no longer able to do so themselves.
In addition to planning your end of life wishes, an advance directive also helps avoid strife within the family. Often, family members are unable to look beyond their own grief to see what is truly best for a patient in their final days. Arguments and strife between children and other family members can lead to life-long rifts that never fully heal. Those can be avoided with an advance directive that spells out precisely what the patient wishes. It relieves the burden placed on family members and other caregivers.
What Are Your End of Life Needs?
Despite the importance of discussing end of life wishes, only 27% of Americans have discussed their needs and wants with family members or caregivers. If you have not discussed medical treatments you would like, or steps you would like to avoid, what would happen if you suddenly found yourself unable to communicate, with your care and treatment left up to others? Would you be confident in their choices and decisions?
Most people are not comfortable leaving those decisions up to others, yet they are also hesitant to discuss end of life planning. The simplest way to state your wishes for medical care, treatment, and steps to take in your final days is to create an advance directive and then communicate it to your doctors, family members, and friends.
We Honor Your Wishes
At Shining Light Hospice Care, we believe in honoring the patient’s wishes. Not only is it the right thing to do, but studies show that planning your final days through an advance directive can alleviate weight and help improve your quality of life.
The Help You Need to Create an Advance Directive
While many studies support the benefits of creating an advance directive, most patients are unsure about how to proceed. We can help. Our expert team will work with you to create and authorize an advance directive, and then communicate that information to your doctors, care team, and family members.
Ventilator Removal: When Is It Time?
Extubation (removing a ventilator) is never a simple decision. It creates confusion and causes distress in family members. However, it is ultimately a compassionate act that allows the patient to die humanely while alleviating their suffering.
At Shining Light Hospice Care, we strive for a dignified, pain-free death whether the patient is at home, in a hospital, or a long-term care facility. We also ensure that the patient’s final wishes are followed and deliver the resources and services necessary to meet the patient’s spiritual, social, mental, and emotional needs.
We ensure that:
- The patient’s wishes are honored, followed by those of the family. Note that if the two are not the same, we satisfy the patient’s wishes first.
- The patient’s pain and distress are compassionately managed through both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical means.
- Patients are comforted by the presence of both respiratory and music therapists.
- That the patient’s underlying condition is the cause of death, rather than the extubation method.
- That support is present for the patient, as well as friends and family in the form of chaplains, bereavement specialists, and other specialists.
What You Need to Know about Living Wills and Advance Directives
What Is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a legal document that spells out specifically what patients want to be provided in terms of palliative and medical care if they are unable to make decisions themselves. It’s a guide for medical providers, as well as for family members, during a difficult and trying time.
However, an advance directive is not just for the patient’s benefit. It also helps to alleviate the burden of making decisions for a loved one placed on family members. It is common for family members to disagree on the right path forward and for the picture of what’s best for the patient to become clouded. An advance directive provides actionable directions and helps prevent rifts between family members.
An advance directive includes two components: a living will and a power of attorney. Each state has its own requirements, though, so patients and their family members are urged to research their state’s requirements.
Steps to Ensure Your End of Life Wishes Are Honored
If you’re finding it difficult to speak to your family members or doctors about your end of life wishes, you’re not alone. It’s a difficult thing for anyone. However, these steps can help simplify the process for you.
- Decide what you want and do not want in terms of care and treatment.
- Tell your physician what you have decided.
- Discuss your decision with your family members.
- Determine what end of life care options are available to you
- Document your decisions and the care that you want/do not want so that it is clearly communicated to everyone.
The Two Parts of an Advance Directive
An advance directive helps you communicate your wishes, and is also legally binding. However, it’s important to understand the two components involved – your living will and your power of attorney.
The Living Will
A living will specifies your decisions in terms of medical treatment. It tells others exactly what should and should not be done if you are unable to express your preferences yourself. However, these documents, while spelling out your wishes, are not legally enforceable on their own. They require a power of attorney for that.
The Power of Attorney
Your power of attorney is legal authorization for someone to make health-related decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. You will need to nominate a representative who will speak for you. This can be a family member, a friend, or anyone else you know well and trust to see your wishes honored.
Creating an Effective, Evocative Advance Directive
Creating an advance directive and designating someone to speak on your behalf (empowered by the power of attorney) are the first steps. However, having an advance directive does not necessarily mean that it will be implemented. Our compassionate caregivers have provided a few critical tips to help ensure that your directive is effective:
- Make sure you select the right healthcare surrogate to speak for you. Not only must you trust this individual, but they must know and understand your desires in terms of care and medical treatment.
- Understand common care provided at end of life. This includes life-sustaining medication, as well as resuscitation. This understanding will help ensure that you can make informed decisions.
- Make sure that those around you understand the contents of your advance directives. This can help limit the “shock factor” with certain decisions.
- Regularly evaluate your feelings regarding your decisions. As long as you can make decisions, your advance directive can be altered. Understand that your feelings may change over time and be prepared for your directive to evolve to match those changes.
- Check with your doctor to ensure that your advance directive has been recorded and that there is a duplicate located somewhere.
Honoring Your Wishes
The ultimate goal of an advance directive is simple – it’s to make sure your wishes are honored at the end of your life. It communicates your desires to others even if you are no longer able to do so yourself, and it does so in a legally binding manner. Simply telling your family members about your wishes does not guarantee they won’t make different decisions when you’re no longer able to voice your wishes.
Contact us today to learn more about creating an advance directive and the medical treatments available to you during this time in your life.