Hospice Services Enrich the Lives of the Dying

| By Jodi Horton

Half of hospice patients received hospice care for less than three weeks, according to the 2013 Facts & Figures Report from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. The Medicare Hospice Benefit is for individuals with a terminal illness and a life expectancy of six months or less. It’s our hope that families will reach out to hospices sooner for the end-of-life care that hospice provides.

“By focusing first on what’s most important to our patients, we can give them the opportunity to live their life while on hospice,” explains Lisa Daniels, Casa de la Luz Hospice social worker.

How does hospice help a dying patient live their life on hospice?

Hospice care focuses on providing comfort care, by providing pain relief and managing symptoms. (Medicare continues to pay for covered benefits for health problems that are not related to the terminal illness.) Hospice services are not limited to a set amount of time; care continues as long as the hospice physician recertifies that a patient is terminally ill.

Hospice patients are cared for by an interdisciplinary team of professionals who handle medical, practical, emotional, and spiritual needs. The team includes a nurse, who consults often with the hospice physician regarding the patient’s plan of care; a home health aide to provide assistance with personal care tasks like bathing and grooming; a social worker to help with issues like final arrangements or finding placement in an adult care home or assisted living facility if necessary; and a chaplain who can listen to spiritual concerns or connect patients with a spiritual community. Some patients also choose to take advantage of the hospice’s volunteer services, which matches patients with volunteers who can provide companionship to the patient and relief for a family caregiver.

Most hospice care is provided in the home – where the majority of Americans have said they would want to be at this time. Care is also provided in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospice centers.

Hospices fulfill the wishes and needs of the dying, and we can do that for the last phase of a person’s life—be it three weeks or six months.

If you or someone you know in Pima County would benefit from the care of a hospice, call Casa de la Luz Hospice at (520) 544-9890 to schedule an evaluation with one of our nurses.

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