Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the end of their life. It’s something that we put off for another day. It’s years away, right? That’s true until it isn’t.
Time has a way of slipping past us. Before we realize it, we no longer have years ahead of us. Instead, we measure our time in months, perhaps even weeks. Hospice care can help make that remaining time more comfortable, even enjoyable, but patients and their family members need to know more about the different types of care available.
What Is Hospice Care?
Terminally ill patients suffering from conditions like cancer, lung disease, cardiovascular disease, or even dementia-related conditions, need help and care as they near the end of their lives. Hospice care offers comfort, freedom from pain and discomfort, and even companionship and mental and spiritual clarity. Hospice care is not focused on finding a cure for a patient’s terminal illness. Rather, it’s focused on making them comfortable so they can enjoy the time remaining to them, say their goodbyes to family and friends, and live their last days with dignity and even joy.
The Levels of Hospice Care
While all types of hospice care share some similarities (a focus on patient comfort and freedom from pain, for instance), they are not identical. There are four levels or types of hospice care offered by most providers.
Home Hospice Care
For most patients, hospice care occurs in their home or the home of a loved one. In some cases, “home” is an assisted living facility, or a long-term care facility. This allows the hospice provider to offer compassionate care in privacy, allowing the patient their dignity, while helping them learn to manage pain and find comfort.
Intensive Hospice Care
Intensive hospice care is very similar to intensive care in a hospital setting. That is, the patient requires skilled medical care around the clock. The hospice care provider should ensure that nurses, hospice aides, and the hospice doctor (if necessary) are all available to provide the care that the patient needs. Again, this type of care is usually delivered at the patient’s home, rather than in a clinical or hospital setting.
Inpatient Hospice Care
While most hospice patients are at home, that is not always possible. In some cases, managing the symptoms of a terminal illness, or a secondary or even tertiary illness will require treatment in a hospital. The right hospice care provider will deliver their services in an inpatient setting and even help locate a bed at a nearby hospital for the patient. The team will continue to provide care throughout hospitalization and when the patient returns home.
Respite Hospice Care
The last of the four types of hospice care, respite care is designed to provide patients with the care they need while giving family members a respite from their duties. In almost all instances, the primary caregiver for a patient is a family member. They’re responsible for cooking, cleaning, bathing and dressing the patient, helping them with their daily activities, and more. However, that requires a significant investment of time and effort. Respite care gives family members a much-needed rest so they can take care of other responsibilities, or just take a little time for themselves, secure in knowing that their loved one will be cared for by compassionate professionals.
Balancing Caregiving and Hospice Care
For family caregivers, the idea of bringing in a hospice care team can give rise to complicated emotions. On the one hand, you’re already providing care for your loved one, so why is a team needed? On the other, you’re tired, stressed, and in need of a little rest yourself, so you welcome the new arrivals.
Balancing caregiving with hospice care is not the easiest thing to do. We highly recommend that any familial caregivers take part in the selection and vetting process when choosing a hospice care provider. This will allow you to ask questions, learn more about what services are provided, when, and how you fit into it all.
For most family caregivers, your role will not change. You’ll simply have the help and assistance that you need during this time. You will remain the primary caregiver – preparing meals, doing laundry, watching TV with the patient – while the hospice team handles pain management, physical therapy, sourcing medical equipment, and the like. They can also provide you with a break when necessary (the respite care service we mentioned earlier).
A Compassionate Helping Hand
Approaching the end of life can be daunting and stressful both for the patient and their family members. The right hospice care level can ease those burdens, help the patient live happier and pain-free, and even provide caregivers with the chance to rest and care for themselves. Contact us today to learn more about the four levels of hospice care.