- Hospice is defined as medical care designed to help someone with a terminal illness live as well as possible for as long as possible. It is administered by a team of trained professionals who work together to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of end-of-life patients and their families.
- Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about hospice that can create a stigma about this essential end-of-life service.
Myth: Hospice Care Is Only for People Who Have Given up on Life
- The truth is, hospice focuses on the “life” portion of end-of-life care. It is a philosophy of care that focuses on treating the whole patient – not just their disease.
- It provides medical care and pain management as well as emotional and spiritual support tailored to the patient’s needs and desires.
- The primary goal of hospice care is to improve the patient’s quality of life and provide support for loved ones and caretakers to ensure that the patient’s final days are as comfortable as possible.
Myth: Once You Enter Hospice Care, You Can Never Go Back
- Hospice care is not a death sentence, it is simply a comprehensive service offered to patients with life-limiting illnesses for whom a cure is unlikely or impossible.
- Patients have the right to leave hospice care at any time. If the patient’s condition improves, they may choose to pursue curative treatment again. The option to reapply for hospice always remains open.
Myth: Hospice Care Is Only for People with a Few Days or Weeks to Live
- According to the most recent statistics, the average length of service for Medicare patients enrolled in hospice was 76 days.
- Hospice care focuses on a person’s last six months of life or less (although cases vary).
When curative treatment is no longer an option, hospice professionals like the team at SPG Hospice work to make the patient’s life as comfortable and fulfilling as possible.
Myth: Entering Hospice Care Means Giving up Control over Your Care
- Hospice care is meant to increase quality of life for terminally ill patients, so it cannot be forced on anyone.
- The patient always has the right to request or refuse services.
- Hospice care is for the patient’s family and loved ones just as much as the patient.
- Hospice patients may even choose to leave hospice and return to curative treatment with the option to return later.
Myth: Hospice Care Can Only Be Given at a Hospital or Hospice Facility
- Hospice surrounds the patient – wherever they call home – with a team of professionals who specialize in helping them live their best life possible for all of the time they have left.
- Many patients choose to receive hospice care in the comfort of their own home, though it can also be administered in a hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility, or a hospice center.
- Hospice is not a location but a method of care focused on pain and symptom management.
Myth: Hospice Care Doesn’t Make Much of a Difference
- Patients who enter hospice care have already been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Though there may be little to no expectation of a cure, hospice care helps patients live out their remaining days with as little pain, discomfort, and stress as possible
- Patients who receive hospice care have a better quality of life and live almost three months longer than patients who receive standard care alone. ( https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1000678 )
Myth: Hospice Care Ends with the Patient’s Passing
- Grief support services are included for family members for up to a full year after the patient’s passing.
- Many hospice services also help make funeral arrangements or provide support for other issues that arise after the patient’s death.
Hospice care may not be right for every patient, but the only way to ascertain whether hospice is the best option is to learn what really happens in hospice. Educating yourself and your family with simple facts about hospice care can help you decide whether it is something to consider. One of the things the team at SPG Hospice most often hears from families is, “we wish we had known about these services sooner.”