“You matter because of who you are. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully but also to live until you die.”
–Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the first modern hospice
In a world where everyone is yearning for a good life, some people yearn for a good death. We are talking about people with a terminal illness. In the last moments of life, they only hope for a painless death without any suffering.
This is where Hospice care comes into the picture. People with terminal illnesses usually don’t have a great life, but they deserve a painless death. Hospice care ensures that instead of waiting for life to end, they celebrate their last moments and enjoy them.
What is Hospice Care?
The term “Hospice Care” doesn’t reveal much, and people either have incomplete or zero information about it. So, Hospice care is specialized care provided to the people suffering from a critical illness that can’t be cured or controlled.
In Hospice care, the symptoms of the disease are treated instead of the disease itself. This is done by a team of professionals who take care of the patient’s needs, such as physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. The main goal of this specialized care is to ensure that the patient spends his last days with dignity without feeling hopeless. It is not just about the ill; Hospice care also includes the family in making decisions.
When Should One Opt for Hospice?
This is a debatable question. Usually, the family asks for Hospice for the patient when only a few weeks are left in their lives. This happens because of the lack of information about when they can opt for Hospice care for their loved ones.
One should be in Hospice care if their health is deteriorating at an unexpected pace, and they cannot perform their daily activity as quickly as they should. As far as a definite period is concerned, one can opt for this specialized care when they are expected to survive six months. However, it’s not an official period for Hospice care. You can also ask for Hospice if you feel that your loved one needs it, and if their condition stabilizes during the care, you can end it whenever you want.
When you feel that the treatment is not working anymore and the patient’s condition is deteriorating day by day, that’s the time for Hospice.
Am I Eligible for Hospice?
Hospice care is for anyone suffering from a terminal illness. However, it would help if you had a Hospice physician along with a second physician to certify that the patient meets the eligibility criteria, which is six months of life expectancy.
If a person’s health starts declining rapidly even before six months, then also Hospice care can be taken, given the physician certifies it.
If the eligibility criteria of Hospice care is dissected further, then there are certain situations when one should opt for it.
You can ask for Hospice if the patient is facing the following situations:
- Suffering from life-limiting illness and has the life expectancy of six or fewer months.
- Has been hospitalized frequently in the last six months.
- Experiencing a change in cognitive and functional abilities.
- Progressive weight loss
- A rapid increase in weakness and fatigue.
- Deterioration in mental abilities
- Unable to perform ADLs easily
- Recurring Infections
The eligibility of Hospice care is also based on the disease. A person is eligible for it if he or she is suffering from:
- Cardiopulmonary Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Huntington’s Disease
- Cerebral Vascular Accident
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Renal’s disease
- Non-Alzheimer’s dementia
Apart from the conditions above, if a person is suffering from two or more chronic diseases, then also Hospice is an option.
Choosing the right Hospice provider
When you are sure that you want Hospice care for your loved ones, you must look for the best provider of this specialized care, and for that, you need to look for certain qualities in the agency.
History and Reputation
The history and reputation of the care providers are the representations of their experience and quality in the field. So, while looking for the service, you must have all the necessary information about the same. Try to connect to people who are already in the care of agency that you consider for your loved one. They will provide you with the correct information that you need to know about the agency.
Certification, license and payment policies
You must pay close attention to the certifications, licenses, and the payment policies of the Hospice provider. Ensure that the care provider is accredited in your state and certified by the Department of Veteran Affairs. You must also confirm if the agency accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and other private insurance coverage for the Hospice.
Levels of Care Offered by the provider
It would help if you also made sure that your Hospice provider offers all the necessary four levels of care. You should also have information about the medical equipment, medications, and the essential supplies that the agency provides to the patient.
Location of the Caretakers
The location of the nurses is also an important aspect to consider. If your Hospice service provides inpatient facilities, then its the best option. However, if that’s not the case, then you must know how far the caretakers live from the patient. It’s essential that the professionals responsible for the Hospice care stay close to the patient’s location.
Right Hospice Software
You might not consider checking the Hospice software of your provider as it is not up to you to choose it for them. However, the better the agency’s software, the better its efficiency will be in providing the care. Try to gain information about the Hospice software that your service provider is using and ensure it has all the necessary features.
So, don’t wait for the condition of your loved one to worsen. Get the right Hospice care and let them live their life peacefully in the last moments before they blend with the universe.