Saying goodbye when a loved one is seriously ill can seem unbearable. But your loved one doesn’t have to suffer unnecessarily. Instead of continuing painful and tiresome treatments until their last moments, care can be focused on quality of life. CHP Hospice is here to help when a serious illness becomes terminal.
What is hospice care?
The goal of hospice care is not to cure or extend the patient’s lifespan. Instead, the CHP Hospice staff strives to make the last months, weeks, or days as peaceful and comfortable as possible by addressing pain and symptoms in the most effective way possible.
The result is a dignified death that allows patients to spend more time creating valuable memories with family members instead of undergoing prolonged medical treatments.
Hospice care is only for those with a terminal diagnosis at ANY AGE. If there’s still a reasonable hope for a full recovery, hospice services are not recommended. However, hospice can be started and stopped at any time.
Patients are within their rights to refuse medical treatment as long as they are of sound body and mind. If the patient is incapacitated for whatever reason (either physically or mentally), family caregivers may choose a hospice provider on their behalf.
Hospice care involves a number of services including nursing care, medical social services, physical, occupational, and speech therapy, caregiver support, medical equipment, pain medications, spiritual and emotional support, plus grief support after the patient passes.
When should hospice care begin?
Often hospice care is started too late, which reduces the positive impact on the quality of life for both the patient and their family. After a loved one passes, many families wish they’d had hospice services in place much earlier, because of all the available care and support they could have utilized but didn’t because the patient was only on hospice for days or hours.
Hospice care is provided when a patient is determined to have less than six months to live if the disease runs its normal course. There is no limit on how long a patient can be on hospice. At any time during a life-limiting illness, it’s appropriate to discuss all care options, including hospice.
Specifically, hospice should be considered when:
- Treatment is no longer having any effect
- Pain and symptoms are not controlled
- The side effects of their medical treatments are becoming difficult to manage
- Frequent trips to the hospital or ER
- The patient is losing weight, has infections, severe shortness of breath, or pain
- They seem confused or drained by constant medical treatments
- They are losing the ability to communicate effectively
- They are losing their appetite
- They spend much of their time sedated or sleeping
- Medical professionals indicate that continued treatments will provide no benefit
- The patient no longer wishes to pursue curative treatments
Questions to ask yourself as you consider hospice care
- Is my loved one suffering from a life-limiting disease or illness?
- Are they showing serious signs of decline?
- Shouldn’t mom/dad die on their own terms?
Is hospice care the same thing as palliative care?
Both hospice care and palliative care are types of “end-of-life” care options. However, they’re not the same. Palliative care is provided while a patient continues to receive medical care for a terminal condition, while hospice care focuses entirely on comfort.
Limiting pain and increasing comfort
Hospice can limit pain with a number of options, and their pain can be controlled without frequent trips to the hospital. Whether they are aging in place or living in a nursing home, hospice care can make their days as comfortable as possible. Medical appliances and supplies can be brought to their residences (such as hospital beds and wheelchairs).
Certain therapeutic treatments can also provide relief, including physical and occupational therapy. Note that this therapy is not intended to “cure”; it’s only intended to make their life more comfortable. Hospice care features a strong emphasis on holistic well-being, and it may include home health care, nursing services, and medication.
What types of options are available with CHP Hospice?
CHP offers a complete range of hospice services:
- Nursing home hospice care – meets the specialized needs of the patient and enhances and supplements the care provided by the facility
- In-home hospice care – services delivered in the patient’s home via scheduled visits and as needed
- Inpatient Hospice Center – pain and symptom relief, respite, and 24-hour hospice care
Questions to help a senior consider hospice care
- You’ve been fighting your illness for so long. Wouldn’t you like to be more comfortable now?
- Wouldn’t you like to go out on your own terms?
- You’ve been spending so much time in the hospital. Wouldn’t you like to spend more time with your family members before you leave us?
Paying for hospice care
Hospice care is covered by a number of potential sources:
- Medicare: Medicare can provide funding for hospice care under certain circumstances. Medicare’s hospice benefit applies if your doctor certifies your senior has a life expectancy of six months or less. Once your hospice benefit begins, Medicare will not cover anything intended to cure the terminal illness but will cover all hospice care costs.
- Medicaid: The Medicaid hospice benefit provides nursing, physician services, counseling, and more to those with a terminal diagnosis. Coverage includes home care, short-term inpatient care, respite care, equipment, and more. Patients must file their election statement with a chosen hospice provider to be eligible.
- Veterans Benefits: Veterans Benefits provides VA Palliative Care for enrolled veterans. Coverage includes the cost of a health care team, which not only includes medical professionals but also mental health workers and chaplains.
- Private insurance: In some cases, private insurance plans will cover hospice care. However, it really depends on your specific plan, and you’ll need to read the fine print to be sure.
- CHP Patient Care Fund: As a not-for-profit, CHP Hospice raises funds to provide for patient care needs when there is a gap or deficiency in coverage.
Starting Hospice Care
To initiate hospice services, simply call your local CHP Home Care and Hospice office. Our caring staff is happy to answer questions and arrange services through your physician, hospital, nursing, or assisted living facility.