A type of care provided to patients with terminal illnesses that focuses on pain and symptom control. It also encompasses care that supports the patient’s psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Hospice care includes interventions to control your pain and manage your symptoms, as well as physical, occupational and speech therapy when needed. It also includes the provision of medications and medical equipment necessary in managing and treating issues related to your terminal diagnosis. Hospice care further includes interventions to meet your psychological, social and emotional needs. Spiritual guidance and counseling are also included.
Once a referral is made to a hospice agency, a hospice representative will contact you or your caregiver to schedule a time for a hospice nurse to meet with you so that he or she can conduct an evaluation to determine your eligibility to receive hospice services. If you are deemed eligible, the hospice care team will—with your involvement—begin to create an individualized plan of care for you. The plan of care will detail services you will receive, as well as the frequency of visits from members of the care team.
The plan of care serves as the guide map for navigating your care and meeting your needs. It will be updated as your needs change. You will receive visits from members of the hospice care team who will serve to meet your needs, whether physical, psychological, social, emotional or spiritual. In between visits, you and your caregivers are encouraged to call the hospice agency with any questions or concerns, as professionals are available 24 hours a day to assist you by phone and in person as needed for emergencies or urgent concerns.
Hospice care can afford many benefits to your family. If you elect to receive hospice services, your family can benefit from things like spiritual and emotional support, help in understanding your disease process, in-home help from trained volunteers, peace of mind knowing that a team of healthcare professionals is overseeing and participating in your care, help with understanding the dying process, respite care, bereavement care and grief counseling, among others.
If you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and your doctor estimates that your life expectancy is six months or less—assuming your illness takes its normal course—you are a candidate for hospice care. Anyone can make a referral to a hospice agency, including you, a family member, a friend, your minister or your doctor. Once that referral is made, a hospice representative will contact you to schedule a visit with a hospice nurse who will determine your eligibility and begin to create a plan of care and schedule of services for you.