Monthly Archives: February 2015

Considering Hospice?

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If you have been considering hospice for yourself or for your spouse, partner, parent, sibling or other family member, here are a few things you should know.

  1. The primary goal of hospice care is to provide comfort and peace of mind to patients.
  2. Hospices provide this service in private homes and care facilities.
  3. Hospice nurses and home health aides monitor a patient’s condition through in-person visits several times each week.
  4. Hospice staff members offer guidance for family members regarding care for patients. Hospice agencies provide supplies as needed, such as hospital beds, adult diapers and oxygen for home use.
  5. Hospice is a fully covered by Medicare. Other private and government-issued insurance plans typically cover hospice care completely.
  6. Hospice personnel know that patients and family members may not be familiar with hospice care and how it works. They work to assure that all concerned are well informed about the extent of care hospice offers.
  7. Although nurses and other staff are on call round-the-clock, hospices do not provide 24/7 care. In-home caregivers (including family members and home health care service providers) or nursing facility staff take care of patient needs on a day-to-day basis.
  8. Hospice care can include visits from a massage therapist who is trained to help address discomforts that typically affect hospice patients.
  9. Hospice volunteers are available to provide companionship to patients. They may read to them or simply visit and share a conversation.
  10. The hospice chaplain offers counsel to patients as well as to family members. He or she can offer ways to address grief, as necessary.
  11. Hospice does not accelerate or slow down the dying process. Its purpose is to allow patients to spend their final days living the best life possible.
  12. The hospice team will help guide caregivers through the final stages of the patient’s life.

If you have questions about hospice care in St. Louis, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

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Patient Comfort=The #1 Priority of Hospice

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Hospice care is all about comfort. Freedom from pain. The security of being in one’s own home, surrounded by loving family members.

Hospice does not make a person’s life longer or shorter. But it does strive to make the final days/weeks/months of a person’s life better. Hospice works to relieve a patient’s physical pain and emotional pain.

Hospice not only benefits the patient, it also benefits the family. The second definition of “comfort” in the illustration above speaks of the easing of a person’s feelings grief or distress. Spiritual support and counseling is available for hospice patients and family members.

Comfort for patients is achieved in several ways including massage therapy. (Not all hospice agencies employ a massage therapist. Hope Hospice does.)

Hospice nurses and doctors provide patient comfort by alleviating pain with medications, including narcotic medications. Experienced personnel know which medications are right for which particular pain. They also know the side effects that may occur.

It is a myth that morphine is only administered when a patient is very close to death. The level of pain is the determining factor regarding morphine and its dosage amount. Again, the goal is patient comfort.

Whether Hope Hospice administers care to a patient in a private home or in a care facility, patient comfort is the top priority.

Because certain aggressive treatments can be painful and stressful, simply ending those treatments and handing care over to your hospice team can lead to increased patient comfort (even before medications are administered).

To learn more about hospice care and ways that hospice can help provide patient comfort, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Can Quit Hospice

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If a patient or family member is having difficulty making the decision to transition to hospice care, you should know that a patient can stop hospice care at any time.

If, at any point after being admitted for hospice care, a patient or family member feels that the decision was made too soon, you can stop hospice care and resume your previous course of treatment.

If, after beginning hospice care, a patient has a change of heart and chooses to go back to aggressively fighting an illness, that is an option that may be exercised.

If hospice care does not meet expectations, for whatever reason, the commitment to receive hospice care can be cancelled.

The vast majority of patients and families DO continue with the hospice care program they have begun. For family members, the important factor to consider is the welfare of the patient. Is he or she better off with hospice care or with another form of care?

In a small number of cases, a patient may get better or, at least, not get worse and choose to end hospice care. With many noncancerous conditions, it is difficult to predict life expectancy of a patient.

If the fear of signing on for something you cannot step away from is causing you, as a patient or as a family member, to avoid hospice care or to postpone making the decision, don’t be afraid. You can discontinue hospice care whenever you wish.

We at Hope Hospice work hard to meet the needs of patients and families. We explain to you exactly what hospice care is and what it can and cannot do, so that our service will meet expectations.

For questions about hospice care in St. Louis, please call us at Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. We know that hospice may be an unfamiliar concept to many and we are always happy to help with answers to all your questions.

 

(photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/29778206@N04/3097490380, http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Important New Book: The Conversation

The Conversation

Another important book about the way we handle end-of-life in America has just been published. The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan For End-Of-Life Care by Dr. Angelo Volandes presents useful guidance for patients, families and doctors regarding difficult conversations about the best practices for end-of-life treatment.

In the book, Dr. Volandes offers actual sample scripts that illustrate the right ways to address these tough questions.

“Despite billions of dollars in new technologies in America’s finest hospitals,” he writes, “the most important intervention in medicine today happens to be its least technological: timely and comprehensive discussions with patients as they near death.”

Volandes tells stories of several patients and how they chose to handle the approaching end of their lives. Every story is different but each has the common element of a conversation to determine what is really important to the patient.

He is not the first doctor to point out that many in his own profession have shortcomings in communication. He writes: “When it comes to talking with patients about end-of-life care, doctors rarely acknowledge the skill and practice needed to perform one of the hardest ‘procedures’ of all: having The Conversation with patients and families. Unfortunately this short-sightedness results in patients’ lives that end with bad deaths.”

If The Conversation leads patients, families and, especially, doctors to talk more openly about these issues, Dr. Volandes will have scored a major accomplishment. One of the book’s stated goals is to embolden patients to ask questions when doctors do not initiate the conversation. He encourages doctors to become catalysts of change.

We applaud Dr. Volandes for writing this book. Take a moment to view his video which he talks about the book.

For answers to your questions about hospice care in St. Louis, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.