Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Hospice Patient’s Five Wishes

Shortly after Hope Hospice admits a new patient, we ask the patient to tell us how they wish to be treated during the process. We offer them “Five Wishes.”

The “Five Wishes” present a patient with situations and options that he or she may have considered, but has not yet discussed in detail. By offering choices to a patient and receiving his or her input, we believe we are able to give our patients better and more personalized care. And by making his or her preferences known, the patient can experience “peace of mind” throughout his or her treatment.

The “Five Wishes” that Hope Hospice asks patients to share are:

  1. My Wish for Who I Want to Make Health Care Decisions for Me When I Can’t Make Them for Myself
  2. My Wish for the Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Don’t Want
  3. My Wish for How Comfortable I Want to Be
  4. My Wish for How I Want People to Treat Me
  5. My Wish for What I Want My Loved Ones to Know

The “Five Wishes” make it possible for a Hope Hospice patient to decide whether to inform church members of his or her condition and whether he or she wishes to invite them to visit. One important patient option is “I wish to be cared for with kindness and cheerfulness, and not sadness.”

The “Five Wishes” allows a patient to determine whether he or she prefers to be buried or cremated, songs to be played at a funeral and how the patient wishes to be remembered.

When notarized, the “Five Wishes” form becomes a legal document. But more importantly, it allows the patient’s desires to be known and followed during his or her final days and hours (and even beyond death). These wishes provide guidance to family members, caregivers, hospice staff, friends, pastors and others.

By honoring a patient’s “Five Wishes,” we feel that we are able to provide a higher level of service to both the patient and the family. Hospice care is a very personal, multifaceted type of health care. The “Five Wishes” shared by each Hope Hospice patient allow us to know the patient better and deliver care that meets his or her specific preferences.

To learn more about Hope Hospice’s “Five Wishes,” please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

 

 

 

 

 

When The Diagnosis Comes

If you are with your spouse or your parent when the doctor says to him or her, “I don’t think we can do anything else. You will want to call hospice,” the message can be jarring.

Even if you have had doubts about the effectiveness of treatments—even if you have seen the illness progress just like it did with other family members—even if the discomfort from chemo has been overwhelming—receiving these actual words from the doctor is likely to cause sadness and, in some cases, can even lead to depression.

This is a time when family members and the patient need to evaluate the whole situation. The number one priority should be patient comfort, both physical and mental. Letting the patient know that you will be by his or her side, giving your time and attention through the entire process, is vital.

The patient may want to talk at length or she or he may want to reflect quietly. The patient may even want a bit of solitude to think and, perhaps, to pray.

You may wish to talk to one or more hospice agencies. Ask about the services they afford. Ask about their nurses and home health aides. Ask about their social workers and chaplains. In making a decision to seek admission to a particular hospice, consider the entire range of services a hospice offers.

If a number of family members are to be included in the hospice decision, make sure that all voices are heard—especially that of the patient. If the family members concerned are children of the patient, avoid power struggles. In some cases, one particular family member may be much better equipped to handle important details. Some siblings may wish to share their thoughts, but may not want to shoulder much of the responsibilities. That’s just the way it is sometimes. The sooner the group comes to these realizations, the sooner things can proceed on a proper course.

Consider, too, that the dying process may not be a smooth, steady decline down a consistent slope. There are usually ups and downs—in physical health and in mental attitude. There may be days when the patient feels great and days when the patient feels terrible. For this reason, calling hospice sooner rather than later is recommended. When the patient is uncomfortable, a hospice staffer can be summoned and can attend to patient needs within a short period of time.

At Hope Hospice we frequently hear family members tell us, “We wish we had called you sooner.” We never hear anyone say, “We called you too soon.” If a patient’s condition improves, he or she can go off of hospice care. It does happen.

As always, we encourage you to call us with any questions you have about hospice. We know that there are many details about hospice care that are not always clear. Call us at Hope and let us shed some light. Reach Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. Visit us online at hopehospicestl.com.

When the terminal diagnosis comes, reach out to us for help. Help for the patient. Help for the family.

 

 

 

 

Learn About Hospice NOW

Why do people wait so long to learn about hospice? Is it because we don’t like to talk about death? Is it because hospice doesn’t get the media attention that other types of health care do? Is it because we think we know what hospice is… sort of?

Before you go out to a nice restaurant, you look at online reviews and menus. When you are planning home improvements, you ask your neighbors about their experiences with kitchen remodelers, etc. Before you take a road trip with the family, you make sure your car or truck is in good running condition. When you’re planning to go shopping, you check the mailer you received for specials and coupons.

We all make preparations for life and its big events. Isn’t the end of life a big event? Why do we put everything related to death off until the last minute? You and I are both destined to die. Mortality is certain.

You may have given thought to what you want to happen to your body after your passing. Burial? Cremation? Donation for medical research? If that’s the case, then why would you not give some thought to last few months of your or your loved one’s life?

Here is a scenario that happens too often: A doctor tells a patient that treatment is no longer having a positive effect and that she or he should prepare to face death. The doctor also encourages the patient to check out hospice care. The news that death is likely within a few months can be devastating—for the patient and the patient’s family. In the fog of this upset, the doctor’s suggestion of a call to hospice is often delayed or, even, ignored or forgotten.

Hope Hospice frequently gets calls from families whose loved one is within hours or days of passing. Had these families known more about hospice and the services provided, they might have called Hope Hospice much earlier in the dying process and received the full range of services.

Even if you and all your family members are in the best of health, you need to learn about hospice and all the services that come along as part of hospice care. When you see an item about hospice in a newspaper or magazine or online, take a moment to read it. Do a web search for local hospices and read the content on their websites. Here is a link to ours: hopehospicestl.com. When a friend or family member talks about experiences with hospice, ask questions.

Familiarity with hospice can help you make good decisions during that period of extreme stress and turmoil that follows a doctor’s diagnosis. It can lead you to ask the right questions as you determine which hospice is the right one for your loved one and your family.

Hospice Thoughts From The Web

Below are several comments about hospice care, collected from forums and blogs around the Internet. The comments reflect a variety of thoughts and concerns. We appreciate the input from all.

“This was a harder decision than I had anticipated even though we have always known my husband would not recover. Having finally made the decision, I find myself much more relaxed than usual.”

“The doctor has to certify that in his opinion the patient will not live more than six months, BUT that does not mean the patient must die in that time.”

“Whereas persons in home health care receive visits primarily from a nurse (additional services such as physical or occupational therapy are sometimes ordered), persons in hospice care receive the services of an entire interdisciplinary team whose area of expertise is end-of-life care.”

“Reframing the goals of care from cure to palliation often helps physicians accept a life-limiting prognosis. By referring a patient to hospice care you are helping to relieve their physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering.”

“The older parent who has been diagnosed with cancer may need help in negotiating her own end-of-life care. The mom may decide she is protecting her son by not informing him of her impending death and (hospice) staff may need to find the right approach to help her understand how essential it is that her son know she is dying.”

“Hospice care enables the individual and their families to experience the final stage of life together, in the setting most comfortable for them. In most cases, the person remains at home, close to family and friends while under professional medical supervision.”

“Hospice providers have consistently achieved very high consumer satisfaction ratings despite the reality that most of their patients die.”

“Even though the doctor thinks she has only 6 months, I have seen people live for years after being put on hospice. Because the care is so good people sometime get better for a while.”

“Some families who do choose hospice care often do so only for the last few days of life, and later regret not having more time saying goodbye to their loved one. To ensure that your family understands your wishes, it’s important for anyone with a life-limiting illness to learn all they can about hospice and palliative care and discuss their feelings with loved ones before a medical crisis strikes.”

“For those who are not familiar with hospice, it is both an approach to patient care and a philosophy focused on end-of-life care. The goal is to help those facing terminal illnesses deal with their pain, whether it is physical or emotional. The help includes pain management, counseling, helping clients get needed medical devices and the like.”

“If you have family members needing hospice care, please learn about it and help them get the needed care.”

These comments do not tell the whole story of hospice, but help illustrate some aspects of hospice care and those who provide it. We encourage you to learn as much as you can about hospice. You can get plenty of information from the Internet. You can also find out about hospice by talking to those whose family members have been on or are on hospice care.

Our staff is prepared to answer any specific questions you may have about the services offered by Hope Hospice, as well as your questions about hospice care in general. Don’t hesitate to call. We will put you in touch with someone who can help. Call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

Find us online at HopeHospiceSTL.com.