We, at eFuneral, have posted several articles and videos related to end-of-life and caregiving. Below are insights from grief recovery specialist, Laura Sefcik on hospice care – what hospice care is and who might benefit from it.
What is Hospice Care?
During the course of my career as a medical social worker, I have referred hundreds of people, who are at their end of life, to hospice services. But what is hospice care? Hospice care is a specific type of end-of-life care that is provided only to those with terminal illnesses and who are expected to pass away within six months. Unlike other types of medical care, hospice focuses on relieving and preventing patient suffering, rather than treating an illness. And what does hospice care include? Hospice services include physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual support, including medications, durable medical equipment, and supplies necessary to promote comfort at home or in other settings, like a hospital or nursing home. Hospice also includes the services of an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals like doctors, nurses, social workers, and chaplains.
Hospice organizations work alongside your family, friends or other caregivers to design a plan of care. Hospice is an intermittent care program, meaning that care is provided through visits by hospice team members to patient homes or institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. Hospice does not provide 24-hour care for the patient at home, nor does hospice provide caregivers when a family member is at work. However, hospice will provide support to the family and will work with families to “piece together” a plan that will provide appropriate care for the patient. If 24-hour care is needed to address an increased need for supportive care, and it is available in the community, the patient can be transferred to an inpatient unit.
Finding a Hospice Provider
If you have Medicare or Medicaid, you may select virtually any hospice program in your community. To find a provider in your community, search the Member Provider Database of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. To better understand your benefits and coverage under Medicare, click here.
If you have private insurance, please refer to your insurance company’s benefits and provider manual.
If you or someone you love has a life-limiting illness, it is important to consider all of your options for care. If you make the decision to enroll in hospice, you may contact a hospice agency directly. But I encourage the involvement of your doctor, who can make the referral on your behalf and help coordinate your care.
This article was written for the eFuneral Resource Center by Laura Sefcik, MPH, MSW, LISW, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist.® Those thinking about end-of-life should visit eFuneral.com for help researching, planning, and arranging a wide variety of funeral-related services.
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