Individuals struggling with the effects of chronic diseases such as cancer, as well as those nearing the end of their lives, often need specialized treatment and help. Hospice care is designed to provide those patients with compassionate treatments, help, and freedom from pain and discomfort that they need.
However, many patients and family members have questions about hospice care, what types of services it encompasses, and more. In this guide, we’ll attempt to answer some of the more frequently asked questions concerning hospice care.
What Kinds of Treatments Does Hospice Care Cover?
There is a myth that hospice care is largely about providing pain medication and basic care. While those are certainly critical parts of what we do, it’s far from the entirety of our offerings. The truth is that hospice care services are as vast and varied as the needs of the patients we serve. Some of the most common services we offer our patients include the following:
- Administering medication, including pain medication
- Tracking medication usage and monitoring symptoms/effects
- Working with doctors and other medical professionals to create treatment/care plans
- Providing alternative therapies, such as massage therapy, pet therapy, or music therapy
- Providing companionship and care
- Sourcing and providing necessary medical equipment
- Providing counseling and help with end-of-life planning
Who Is On the Hospice Care Team?
Each hospice care team includes several trained, licensed medical professionals, although the exact makeup may vary from patient to patient. In most cases, you will have access to a hospice doctor, as well as a nurse/nurse practitioner 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Also, your team may include counselors, social workers, pharmacists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, hospice aides, and more.
Does Hospice Care Work to Cure the Disease?
Most people receiving hospice care are terminally ill or otherwise nearing the end of their lives. The services provided are primarily focused on making them comfortable, easing pain, and helping them deal with fear and anxiety, rather than on curing the disease. The vast majority of hospice patients have six months or less to live.
Is Hospice Care Only for the Elderly?
While many patients receiving hospice care are seniors, hospice care can be provided to anyone in a situation to require these services.
Hospice care is usually covered by your insurance, even if you are on Medicaid or Medicare. However, if you are not covered by these organizations, most hospices are nonprofit organizations that will accept patients and provide quality care regardless of their ability to pay.
Is Hospice Care Similar to Hospital or Clinic Treatment?
No, hospice care is focused on managing pain and improving quality of life. It is not similar to treatment you might receive at the hospital or in a clinical setting, which is focused on curing a disease or treating an illness. Patients on hospice are terminally ill. However, that does not mean that people receiving hospice care are “resigned to their fate”. In fact, this type of care can dramatically improve the quality of a patient’s last few weeks or months of life. It’s focused on dignity while supporting mental, physical, and emotional health.
No, hospice care and palliative care are similar, and hospice care does include palliative treatments. However, they are not the same thing. While both types of care focus on patient comfort, stress reduction, symptom management, and pain relief, they differ in many ways. In contrast to hospice care, palliative care can be provided at any point in a disease’s progression, and patients receiving palliative care may also receive curative treatment. Typically, palliative care also occurs in a hospital or clinical setting.
Is Hospice Care Ordered for You?
No, hospice care is a choice, and it’s one made by patients and family members who want to ensure the highest quality of life and comfort during the last months or weeks of life. However, hospice care may not be right for all patients. You must discuss your thoughts and feelings, goals, and fears with your family members, as well as with your medical team.
Who Is Not a Good Fit for Hospice Care?
Generally speaking, individuals who want to continue pursuing aggressive curative treatment for their condition are not a good fit for hospice care. If you have not exhausted all treatment options, it may be better to consider conventional care in a hospital or disease treatment facility.
Dignity and Care
Ultimately, hospice care is about providing compassionate, dignified care to terminally ill patients. The goal is to ease their pain and discomfort, improve their quality of life, and help them make the most of their time with family and friends. Hospice care is about hope and gaining a sense of control during a trying time.