Let’s Talk Hospice Care!
What is hospice care? What are the benefits of hospice care? We hope this article will help you whether you have been involved with hospice care for another loved one or this is a whole new experience. Typically, hearing the word “hospice” comes with a sickening feeling. Your heart may sink into the pit of your stomach at the thought of a terminal or life-limiting illness. For those who have not experienced it before, they rely on things they may have heard from their neighbor, a community member, or friends and family. We’re here to shed some light on that… so let’s talk hospice care!
Who qualifies for hospice care? Hospice care may be provided for people from all walks of life. The idea behind electing hospice benefits is that a patient has decided that they no longer wish to pursue aggressive treatment. Hospice care is for people who are ready to prioritize their quality of life. The main focus for those who elect their hospice benefit becomes comfort care and pain management.
What are the actual benefits of hospice care? I am going to break this section down to two parts: benefit periods and the benefits of hospice services. You may or may not have heard of hospice benefit periods. Medicare benefit periods consist of two 90-day benefit periods which are followed by an unlimited amount of 60-day benefit periods. The first two 90-day benefits periods sum up to a total of 6 months. It is understood that if a life-limiting or terminal illness follows its normal course, a hospice patient’s life expectancy will be six months or less. However, every body, disease, and process is unique to each person. This is why the continuous 60-day benefit periods exist. A hospice patient is expected to decline as their disease takes its course. The team of providers will be monitoring, tracking, and reporting these changes to the attending physician to determine appropriateness for re-certification.
What exactly should you expect to receive as part of the benefits of hospice services? The core group of professionals consist of the Hospice Medical Director, Skilled Hospice Nurses (both Registered and Vocational Nurses), Social Workers, Spiritual Counselors, Home Health Aides, and Volunteers. The Hospice Medical Director oversees the medical care that is provided to every hospice patient on service. It is a patient’s right to choose who their attending physician will be while on hospice. Whether or not their choice of M.D. will be able to follow a patient at home depends on a variety of factors – scheduling, logistics, availability, and more. We are ready and willing to work with any physician whom a patient has selected as their primary care provider. The skilled hospice nurses are responsible to act as a physician’s eyes and ears. They manage the patient’s case, perform skilled nursing interventions, reconcile medications with our pharmacist and M.D., and tailor a patient’s care plan to cater to their individualized needs. Our social workers assess and counsel patients and their families. They provide resources for placement/housing, financial assistance options, and community benefits. Spiritual counseling is provided by our specialized chaplains and counselors as a religious or non-denominational service. Do you feel like you haven’t had a chance to go grocery shopping or get a massage in a long time? Volunteers come from all walks of life and are joined by the mutual desire to help those in need. Those in need could be patients who may benefit from companionship and emotional support or family members who need to get away for an hour or two. Having the opportunity to rest and recoup is as crucial for loved ones as it is for caregivers.
We hope you’ve found this helpful. This is the first of a 7-series topic on Hospice Care Benefits. Stay tuned for more on What to Expect After a Referral, Levels of Hospice Care, Resources for Family and Caregivers, Palliative Care vs Hospice Care, Pain Management, and Debunking the Myths of Hospice Care. For more information, please contact us clicking here.