The Concept of Hospice Explained

Hospice CareFor many, the term hospice becomes synonym of terminal illness and death. In part, this is true; however, hospice is much more than the "end of your days" on earth, as it deals not only with the patient, but with the patient's family as well. This concept of care is designed to support patients and families when a final and terminal diagnosis has been made and there are no more treatment options for the patient. This same issue has brought many misconceptions that have led people to think that hospice is the result of giving up on life, and that people who are caring for a hospice person are just waiting for him/her to die. This can be farther from the truth; on the contrary, hospice does the opposite, it helps by providing quality of life through planned care to patients and their families, during their last days. It is not an "end approach" but one of "living your best" until the end and having all the support necessary for that to happen.

Illness and death are complex subjects, for adults and for children. Hospice care can help people, especially children, understand these issues, and provide the support necessary to go through the emotions and feelings, as well as physical symptoms during this time. For adults, and family members it could be the difference between total burnt-out and desperation when caring for a love one during the last days, and moving to understanding and accepting this natural process. Many people think that Hospice will be more expensive, and may not be able to afford it. Hospice has coverage through insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, in many states. There are doctor's fees, medicines, and equipment involved, but many times, these expenses are reduced, as family, friends, and volunteers are involved in the care of the patient.

When a doctor has referred a patient to hospice care, it means that the person may have less than six months to live. Since the news may be shocking for the patient and the family, this process is best handled from the beginning and not in the last weeks of life of the patient. Hospice can help both parties deal with the care and emotions during that time since the time of referral. Waiting until the end to start hospice care may rob both parties of much needed help.

These services may be provided in the home of the patient, a nursing facility, or at a hospital, depending on the person's condition and requirements. Once a patient is going to receive this service, a couple of meetings with the doctor, family, patient and hospice staff will be set up to come up with a plan of care involving medications, pain management, comfort, and any specialized equipment that the patient will need. As the illness progresses and patient's condition changes, the plan of care will continue to adjust to the needs of the patient and the family, more intense towards the end. Most people have the misconception that when the patient dies hospice is terminated; however, hospice counseling is available to the family for a full year. For more information on this topic visit lewiscountyhospice.org.