The Importance of Quality Hospice Care

Hospice Care

Hospice care is a specialized area of medicine that focuses on maintaining and improving quality of life for people with a life-limiting illness for which they are no longer pursuing curative treatment.

Quality hospice care can be beneficial for a patientís family members as well, in particular those who serve as caregivers or who are emotionally close to their ailing loved one.

With a focus on keeping patients as comfortable as possible, hospice care is a unique service that brings with it many benefits.

6 Benefits of This Specialized Healthcare Service

Comfort and Pain Management
For people with terminal illness, managing symptoms and pain is key. Comfort care and medications meant to keep nausea, pain, and other symptoms at bay are important components of any hospice program.

A hospice patient can focus on enjoying life, participate in activities they love, and spend quality time with family members, without uncomfortable symptoms getting in the way.

Longer, More Fulfilling Life
A major myth about hospice care is that it hastens death. This isnít true at all! In fact, patients who receive hospice care are likely to live longer than anticipated. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, receiving one day of hospice care can increase life expectancy by up to three months.

Other statistics are less dramatic; the most commonly accepted one is that patients who receive hospice care live on average 29 days longer than those with similar conditions who do not receive hospice care. This is, perhaps, due to the ongoing focus on a patientís health and wellbeing.

When patients feel well – or comfortable, at least – they are able to take part in activities like doing their own grocery shopping, taking vacations, and other things healthy people may take for granted. This ability is empowering for hospice patients.

Improved Mental Health
Hospice improves both patient mental health and the mental health of close family members. Not only can hospice facilitate counseling and treatment of emotional pain, but hospice programs provide a sense of calm and acceptance about terminal illnesses through compassion and care.

Mental health practices and treatments can contribute to peace-of-mind, particularly when you consider that up to 20% of terminally ill patients suffer from major depression due to their condition.

Respite Care and Family Support
Family members often serve as caregivers for their loved ones receiving hospice care. Caregiving can include tasks as simple as running errands and meal preparation, to helping with bathing, toileting, dressing, and more. Even simple companionship falls under the umbrella of caregiving.

But family caregivers need to take time for themselves to handle their own responsibilities, work, and rest. Hospice provides respite care – time for caregivers to recuperate – among a long list of other family supports, such as counseling, access to community resources, and even bereavement assistance.

During respite care, family caregivers might:

  • Practice self-care, such as attending a spa day or relaxing at home.
  • Go to work.
  • Take a vacation.
  • Care for their children and pets.
  • Attend their own medical appointments.
  • Complete housework in their home.
  • Take a break from caregiving and responsibilities altogether.

Caregivers who step in to provide respite care to hospice patients ensure the safety of the patient while family members are away.

Affordable Care Costs
Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurances fully cover hospice care, making it one of the most affordable forms of healthcare in the United States.

With on-call 24/7 nursing available, hospice patients can avoid hospital admissions or doctorís office visits and instead have all their needs managed at home, where theyíre most comfortable. At-home hospice care is even more affordable than care provided in a hospice house or other facility, when comparing costs dollar-for-dollar.

Access to Community Resources
Hospice programs assign a medical social worker to each patient upon admission. These medical social workers can help patients and their families access the resources they need to continue living a fulfilling life.

Itís hard to know how to sign up for community resources if youíve never had to do it before. With a social workerís guidance, hospice patients can receive hot meals delivered to their home, financial assistance from local programs, supplemental insurance or waivers for care through Medicaid, and much more.

A social worker who is familiar with what is available in a community is an invaluable resource, and every community offers different things. This is why a simple generic Internet search for resources wonít turn up all the options that a social worker will know about.

Find Hospice Care Near You
To find home hospice care for your loved one with six months or fewer left to live, you can:

  • Ask their physician or hospital social worker for recommendations.
  • Ask colleagues and friends about their experiences with family members receiving hospice care.
  • Read reviews of hospice programs online, such as on Google or Yelp.

Remember to involve your loved one in the selection process, giving them autonomy over their life and the dignity they deserve.