You might have thought that hospice care refers to a place. However, hospice isn’t a place, but rather an approach on providing comfort to terminally ill patients, their caregivers and their family and friends. Even though hospice care is usually provided in specialized hospice care facilities, it can also be provided in the comfort of your loved one’s home.
One of the main reasons why some families and their loved ones decide to hospice care at home, is because the loved one is anxious about dying in an unfamiliar and strange plac. So naturally they would prefer to receive their end-of-life care in the comfort of their home, being surrounded with their family, friends and mementoes they collected during their life.
What can you expect with hospice care at home?
Once you found a good hospice care organization that will handle the care, your loved one will be officially admitted into the hospice care program.
In order to provide a truly good end-of-life care, you need to have an experienced and multidisciplinary hospice team. A good hospice team should include trained medical, psychological and spiritual professionals that are focused on providing comfort not just for your dying loved one, but also to caregivers and family members. A hospice team usually includes:
- Primary care physician – Who determines the need and candidacy for hospice care and making the initial referral to hospice care.
- Hospice medical director – Creates the hospice care plan with focus on care goals.
- Registered nurse – Visits your loved one 2-3 times a week to ensure that hi/her needs are met and that the care is being provided.
- Social worker – Usually sets up a care for the loved one’s psychosocial needs. He/she also provides counseling and support to family members, friends, caregivers and help navigate the paperwork for hospice care.
- Chaplain – Spiritual leader of the hospice team, helping to navigate the spiritual side of your love one’s end-of-life journey.
- Hospice volunteer – Assisting with light household tasks, preparing meals and providing companionship.
- Caregiver – The primary care provider.
How does hospice care at home work?
Since the goal of hospice is to provide comfortable and pain-free environment, it is focused not only on the patient, but on the caregivers, family and friends.
When it comes to patients, hospice at home can help with
- Pain and symptom management – The hospice care team will closely monitor the progress of the terminal illness and create an optimal plan for comfort.
- Specialized therapy sessions – These can include art therapy, pet therapy and other forms of therapy for maximizing physical, emotional and spiritual comfort.
- Psychosocial counseling – Designed to help dealing with depression or anxiety and better understand end-of-life process.
- Spiritual and emotional counseling – Focused on achieving peace of the spirit and heart prior to death by restoring broken relationships, bring closer friends and loved ones.
- Nutrition – Setting an accurate nutrition plan and adjusting it when necessary.
- Activities of daily living – Involves highly trained nurses that help your loved one with daily tasks such as eating, toileting, bathing and dressing.
For caregivers, hospice at home can help with
- Patient care – Caregivers carry the heaviest load in hospice care at home. This is why hospice care providers assign skilled professionals to help with medicine administration, daily activities, dietary plans etc. in order to provide help whenever possible.
- Errands – The focus on the care for your loved one, can easily distract you from the errands and tasks you should be doing for your household. Hospice can also help you with domestic tasks such as cleaning, cooking, laundry etc.
- Respite care – The burden on caregivers can quickly result in caregiver fatigue or burnout. So having regular breaks and focusing on your own well-being is crucial. That’s why hospice offers you a temporary period during which you can focus on yourself, unwind and self-care.
- Education – The amount of information about your loved one’s illness and how to best use it is sometimes overwhelming. Because of this, hospice care providers will help you to useful information and how to provide the best care possible.
- Psychosocial, emotional and spiritual counseling.
- Being a caregiver can be exhausting and you can find yourself drained both physically, emotionally and mentally. With the help of skilled counselors, you can get guidance and support during difficult times.
For friend and family, hospice at home can help with
- Education – Similarly as with caregivers, friends and family can get further insight of the loved one’s illness and what to expect in the future and how they can help.
- Caregiver support – Even though not every family member has the role of a caregiver, they can all play a huge role in supporting the caregiver in his/her duties and uplift him/her during these difficult times.
- Counseling – Terminal illness of a loved one can stir up all kinds of emotions, that can be channeled through negative outbursts towards the caregiver and other members of the family. Hospice also provides counseling to deal with the stress and help mend broken relationships.
Home Hospice and Medicare
We previously mentioned that Hospice is a fully funded Medicare benefit. Even though hospice at home might require round the clock care (which is normally provided at inpatient facilities). Medicare doesn’t cover round the clock hospice care at home, but most families that decided to go with home hospice care, didn’t experience any out-of-pocket costs for care or support services. Furthermore, the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs also covers hospice care for veterans.