Hospice care or end-of-life care is available to help people who are dying find peace, comfort, and dignity in their final days. Hospice caregivers work to control pain or other symptoms the client may experience. Hospice programs also provide support for the client’s family.
What to Expect:
Entering into hospice care is a difficult time for a patient and his or her family. Many patients and families may not even know exactly how the hospice engagement process works. Essentially, a doctor will make a referral for a patient who has a life expectancy of six months or fewer to receive hospice, or end-of-life care. A patient can also request hospice care, but the request must be approved by the physician. Here are a few things one can expect when in hospice care:
- Visits by members of the hospice team—nurses, clergy, social workers, home health aides, etc.- about 3 times a week
- Weekly assessments by nursing staff
- Hospice staff checking health status, administering medications, and companionship with the patient
- Later visits may involve assistance with funeral arrangements, wills, and power of attorney
Receiving Hospice Care at Home:
Receiving hospice care in the home can help the client and his or her family feel more comfortable during the difficult end-of-life phase. In-home care can help hospice patients manage their pain and medication, while giving family caregivers some needed respite.
Aunt Ann’s Home Care in San Francisco has a staff of qualified, professional caregivers who can provide in-home hospice care, with services including:
- Respite care
- Personal care (bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.)
- Medication reminders
Talking to the Doctor:
The mention of hospice care is often quite frightening for most clients and family members.. If you or a loved one has a terminal illness, don’t wait until a crisis to discuss this important step in the care process with your physician. Some good questions to ask include:
- What will my quality of life be while in hospice care? Make sure your doctor knows which avenues of care and symptom control are the most important to you in maintaining your personal comfort and dignity.
- When should I prepare myself or my family member for hospice care? Being mentally and emotionally prepared for hospice care can ease the minds of both you and your family members.
- What should I do to prepare for hospice care?
- Will I need to have a power of attorney in place?
- Should I write a list of directives for my care providers?
- Can my care providers assist in funeral arrangements if needed?
Many doctors are reluctant to bring up the topic of hospice care too early with their clients; patients should assure their physician that they and their family want to be prepared if the need for hospice care arises.
Services to Consider:
Transitioning into hospice care can be challenging and emotionally draining, no matter how much the client and family have prepared. At Aunt Ann’s Home Care, we provide a wide variety of in-home care services to help our clients maintain their dignity and quality of life in the home as they receive hospice care. Through our experience in caring for hospice patients, we have found that the following services are ones to consider:
- Personal care (bathing, dressing, grooming)
- Medication reminders
- Companionship services
- Respite care to relieve family caregivers
At Aunt Ann’s Home Care, we can tailor a specific plan of in-home care to meet each client’s individual needs.
If you would like more information about hospice care, we have compiled a few well-known, professional resources that we hope will help you learn more about options and what to expect when receiving hospice care.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice
American Cancer Society