In today’s entry I’d like to take a few minutes to recognize that November is both National Hospice & Palliative Care Month as well as National Family Caregivers Month. These two categories are actually closely intertwined, because hospice and palliative care patients and professionals rely on the attention, dedication, and sacrifice of family caregivers.
There are roughly 65.7 million caregivers in the U.S., caring for someone who is ill, disabled, or aged, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.
Every day we meet families, terminally ill patients and their loved ones, in need. Our nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, and chaplains provide support to our patients and their primary caregivers. But an integral part of what makes hospice care such a beneficial service is the help of the primary caregiver(s).
It’s a common misconception that hospice care is around-the-clock care. In routine home hospice care, the hospice interdisciplinary team works with the patient and caregiver(s) to develop a plan of care, one that meets the patient’s goals. The team then educates the patient and the patient’s caregiver(s) on the illness, caregiving, and the end of life journey. The hospice team makes regular visits to the patient, based on the care plan and the patient’s needs. An after-hours team is also available to support the patient and caregiver(s) if questions or a crisis situation occurs. Through this team approach, terminally ill patients can keep the option to spend their final months in the comfort of their own home. (Many hospices, including Casa de la Luz, have an inpatient unit option if symptoms cannot be managed at home).
I’d also like to recognize my fellow hospice professionals. I admire hospice workers for their ability to sit with families during such a difficult time, and I think we need to commend hospice workers for being able to openly face and discuss death and dying, a topic that most people try to keep an arm’s length away. I can’t think of anything more comforting at the end of life than the compassionate, expert care my colleagues provide.
Do you know a family caregiver or a hospice professional? Take a moment this month and let them know you recognize their efforts and their work. Today’s a good day to ask how they’re doing.
Thanks to all of the family caregivers and the hospice care workers out there. I admire you.