What is Hospice Care?

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice is a program of health care and services designed to provide support and understanding to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatment.

Care vs. Cure

Medical care that the general public is accustomed to receiving is known as cure-oriented treatment, meaning the treatments and services provided are to eradicate the cause of illness.  These treatments involve medications, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, gene therapy, organ transplantation, and life-saving measures like intubation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Medical care under the heading of hospice is known as care-oriented treatment.  This type of care neither hastens nor postpones death, but the focus of care is no longer on “curing the disease” but on alleviating the symptoms and/or pain associated with the disease so that the patient may be comfortable.

Hospice vs. Palliative Care

“Hospice” and “Palliative Care” are not inter-changeable terms. Palliative Care refers to care that is provided that focuses only on making and keeping the patient comfortable.  Palliative care may be provided to any patient suffering a debilitating illness or injury. Palliative care may be provided concurrently with cure-focused treatment.

Hospice Care is a sub-focus of palliative care, wherein the soothing care is provided to those patients whose illness will severely limit life expectancy to six months or less, if the illness was to run its normal course.  The cure-focused treatment ceases when hospice care is elected.

Hospice Means Death… Right?

To be highly specific, the root of the word  “hospice” comes from the Latin hospos, which means hospitality or welcome.

The word “hospice” strikes fear in the hearts of the community, and for a fair reason: no one wants to die or have their loved one die, and hospice has become synonymous with tears and heartbreak.  Decline and death is very lonely from the patient’s AND the caregiver(s) perspective.  What hospice care seeks to provide is a knowledgeable, consistent, and compassionate support system for the patient and family so that fear need not override every last moment.

When you or a loved one has received a terminal diagnosis, this means that, according to research, the illness which afflicts the body will cause death if the disease runs its normal course.

The care hospice provides does not hasten death. And conversely, the care hospice provides does not postpone death.

The care hospice does provide creates an environment in which the patient and family may be comfortable, soothed, and given support to discuss and be prepared for the decline and death.

Why Hospice?

Hospice is a support system for patients and their loved ones.  The program of services hospice provides are tailored to the needs of the patient and their families when the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less.  Hospice of Grace understands patients with a terminal diagnosis are apprehensive about the physical decline, the mental stress, the emotional upheaval, the social shift, the spiritual unknown that the end of life represents.

Hospice of Grace is like a healthcare concierge service.  Our nurses, doctors, aides, and volunteers all come to you, wherever you are. Necessary medical supplies and equipment are delivered to you.    Prescriptions and nutritional supplements are delivered to you. By removing these stressors from our patient’s and their family’s lives, we seek to provide a calm, prepared environment for the rest of our patient’s lives.

Terminal Diagnoses, Terminal Illness or Life-Limiting Illness

A terminal disease, terminal illness, or life-limiting illness is a disease or condition that can be reasonably expected to cause death within a short amount of time.  A person is not “terminal”; at Hospice of Grace we consider you still a person, a person living with terminal illness.  A terminal illness is not an immediate death sentence.  You are still living as you hear the diagnosis, and as you walk out the door at the doctor’s office.  It is our job and calling at Hospice of Grace to remind you that you deserve to live the rest of your life (however short or long it may be) in comfort and peace.

Having the Conversation about Hospice

The hospice conversation can be very challenging, both for the patient and their family and friends.  It is important to remember that the overriding focus of hospice care is to HELP:

  • Provide holistic and comprehensive care for the patient

  • Support the patient and family with empathy and education

  • Assure the patient is living as comfortably as possible

  • Prepare the family and patient for death calmly

It may be helpful to compile a series of conversation points to ensure all concerns, worries, needs, and wants are addressed.

Where do you want to live?

  • Sometimes patients are able to remain in their home. Sometimes it is easier for the patient to live in an assisted living facility.  Sometimes a patient will live a portion of time in an assisted living facility and then come home, or vice versa.  It is a personal decision that does involve consideration of the needs and abilities of both the patient and the family.

Who will be providing care for the patient?

  • Hospice care provides visits by nurses and caretakers, but only provides 24/7 care when the patient is in a crisis period.  Oftentimes, a patient with a terminal diagnosis is able to care for his or herself until the end.  However, sometimes a patient needs minimal to maximal assistance with daily needs, from food preparation to bathing to incontinence care (i.e. diaper care).  It is usually a family member who provides the care in this situation.  If a family member is unable to care for the patient, a home heath nurse may be hired.

What are the final wishes of the patient?

  • This is a very important facet of the hospice conversation.  Does the patient wish for CPR or artificial breathing or nutrition? Or does the patient wish for no interventions?  It is important to realize that the final wishes of the patient are very personal and can be very fluid as the decline nears.

There is NO Reason to Wait

There is no reason to wait to elect hospice coverage.  If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and it is expected that this illness will likely cause death within six months or less, call Hospice of Grace now!

  • You do not have to pay for hospice.

  • You will not “use up” your hospice coverage.

  • Hospice of Grace provides specialized concierge-style care.

  • Our team delivers themselves to your doorstep, the medications are delivered within hours to your doorstep.

  • Durable medical equipment like hospital beds and wheelchairs are delivered to your doorstep.

  • You will never need to go to another appointment again.

  • Our doctors, nurses, laboratory technologists, radiology technologists, therapists and volunteers, all COME TO YOU.

  • Hospice of Grace will comfort you for as long as you need us.

  • Hospice care is “scale-able” care, meaning it’s not “all or nothing.”

Upon evaluation, the hospice team will determine how much care the patient and family requires. This may entail only one visit a week or only a hospital bed, all the way up to three visits a week and the whole hospice package of medical equipment. The patient’s condition may improve and decline periodically, requiring more and less care and equipment. Hospice of Grace does not “step on toes” or “take over”.  We serve the patient and family so that the end-of-life experiences doesn’t feel so aggressive or overwhelming