“When is the right time?” A growing number of caregivers are finding that the correct answer to the question is, “As early as possible,” as they discover all of the advantages hospice has to offer the patient as well as the caregiver.
Special needs require the services of specialists. Hospice professionals are specialists in end-of-life care, and should be called upon during the first stages of a terminal illness.
Six Months or Less to Live
A person of any age is eligible for hospice after being certified by a physician as having a life expectancy that may be six months or less, depending on the course of the disease. If a patient lives beyond six months after admission they can continue to receive services as long as a physician continues to document the patient’s eligibility.
Hospice services are covered by Medicaid and many types of insurance, although many not-for-profit hospices generally provide services regardless of the person’s ability to pay.
Making the Most of the Final Stages of Life
Hospice care enables the individual and their families to experience the final stage of life together, in the setting most comfortable for them. In most cases, the person remains at home, close to family and friends while under professional medical supervision. Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice, like many hospices around the country, assigns a care team to each hospice patient. The hospice interdisciplinary team may include a physician; nurse; social worker; bereavement counselor; chaplain; and volunteers. Each team member is focused on the person, not the illness, making sure that all physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met.
Hospice has a unique approach to pain management – another advantage of entering hospice care earlier. The care team always works to manage the patient’s pain as expediently and efficiently as possible. Addressing pain and other symptoms in their early stages, rather than waiting until they become severe, is a priority.
In addition to determining the appropriate medications for pain and other symptoms, members of the care team identify the best ways to administer the medication to the satisfaction of the individual patient.