A quick guide to Hospice Care

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In 2012, an estimated 1.5 to 1.6 million patients received services from hospice. doctor standin in hospital

Hospice care focuses on quality rather than length of life. It provides humane and compassionate care for people in the last phases of incurable disease so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible.

The hospice philosophy accepts death as the final stage of life: it affirms life and neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice care treats the person rather than the disease, working to manage symptoms so that a person’s last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones. It’s also family-centered – it includes the patient and the family in making decisions.

It is a common belief in society that life goes full circle. You are born, live your life, and then die, to put it quite morbidly, but in between you go full circle. We often regress back to our childhood as we go further and further into old age because we may need the same amount of care. As a result, the care we give, as caregivers and relatives, is no longer adequate. As we head into our final days, it may well be time to make a choice as to where to spend them. A hospice is usually a popular option because of the level of specialist care they offer. This is your quick guide to hospices with a brief overview of the information that you may need to make up your mind.

Hospices may differ in approach, but typically provide:

  • Pain and symptom control
  • Home care and inpatient care
  • Spiritual care
  • Family conferences
  • Coordination of care
  • Respite care
  • Bereavement care

Hospice inpatient care is separate from a hospital and is usually a last resort for people at the end of their terminal illness. The staff are all highly trained, but are also employed for what they can bring to the hospice in terms of attitude and efficiency, The staff are a colorful combination of nurses, doctors, counselors, assistants and religious community leaders. In effect, they are there to provide for all of your needs in order to make sure that your relative is as comfortable as possible.

Regardless of whether you know how hospice works or not, it is still a difficult decision to make when it comes to choosing. This is mainly because, despite caring for an elderly relative for a period of time, you still will not want to admit exactly what is going to happen, inevitably sooner rather than later. However, the set up of a hospice is designed to allay these fears and unwillingness to relinquish the controls to a certain extent. It is designed to fully support the family as well as the individual patients.

A fear that many caregivers and family members have is that their relative will be going into a hospice too soon. However, if you are even considering it then it is most probably the right time. After all, as the main caregiver, you will have witnessed the changes that have taken place within your relative over a period of time. It can be heartbreaking to watch them turn into a completely different person as a result of old age and illness. By the time that they have reached the hospice stage, they are no longer the person that you once knew and loved, and the hospice can help you to let go and simply start to grieve.

Hospice care tries to be unobtrusive and, to a certain extent, you could still continue to administer the care that you had been so used to. Staff are there to ensure that your loved one is as comfortable as possible, but are also there to help you, and will completely understand your role up until that point. You did the best you could and there comes a time when you have to enjoy what little time you have left with your loved one.

Do you have questions about choosing the right Hospice? Stay tuned to our next blog.

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