Tag Archives: patient comfort

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.









Shouldn’t Every Hospice Have a Massage Therapist?

Yes, they should. However, not every hospice has a massage therapist. It’s not a requirement. But we at Hope Hospice have one and we are proud of the work she does!

The primary goals of hospice care are patient comfort and symptom control. Massage therapy helps us meet those goals with our patients.

While we all love a good back rub, our Hope Hospice massage therapy goes well beyond that. Our massage therapy addresses centralized areas of pain, which can be in the back, the shoulders, the arms, the legs, the hands, the feet, the neck or the head.

Many patients spend much of their day in bed or in a chair with little movement. Muscles that are not used can become stiff. Massage can relieve that stiffness. Massage therapy can aid in circulation, especially in the arms and legs.

Hospice patients face a unique kind of stress. Not only are they concerned about their own lives coming to an end, they also worry about their survivors and how they will fare following the patient’s death.

For most patients, massage therapy provides significant stress relief. A simple human touch can provide psychological relief that is often greater than the physical relief a massage can offer. Another result of massage for many patients is better sleep.

Our Hope Hospice massage therapist is aware of medical conditions and family circumstances regarding each patient she visits. She attends our weekly staff meetings where she receives patient updates and frequently offers her input. She is a vital part of our hospice care team.

Massage therapy is one of the lesser-known elements of hospice care. Here in St. Louis at Hope Hospice, we know that it is a vital and effective way to improve the quality of life of our patients. We make sure that every patient and caregiver is aware that we offer massage therapy and we encourage them to take advantage and reap the benefit.

Hope Hospice: 314-984-9800



More On The Cost/Value Of Hospice

An amazing statistic appeared in a recent New York Times op-ed column. According to writer Susan Jacoby, “A third of the Medicare budget is now spent in the last year of life, and a third of that goes for care in the last month.” The column also states “the average hospital stay costs Medicare over $6,000 a day.”

Those are startling numbers. If you have recently filed taxes, you may have noted on your W-2 form the significant amount of your 2011 income that went directly to Medicare. (And that amount is not deductible.) Whatever the amount, you would probably have preferred to have that money in your own pocket.

Consider the amount of money that could be saved by Medicare (and we whose contributions fund it) if those who are dying in hospitals chose to die at home, under hospice care.

Another note regarding the massive hospital bills that are accumulated by those who prefer to die connected to tubes and monitors in a hospital: families are often obliged to pay some of the costs that are not covered by Medicare, including the tab for certain drugs. Whereas patients on hospice care are not obliged to make additional payments to the hospice agency.

How do you know if your loved one would prefer to spend his or her last weeks and months in the comfort of home? (As opposed to being in a hospital.) You ask. And you ask early in the dying process, when the patient still has a grip on reality.

These conversations can be difficult to get started. But once the topic is addressed, you may discover that your loved one has thoughts and desires that have never been voiced. And, like with many such dialogues we conduct in our lives, they often turn out to be much less uncomfortable than anticipated.

Hospice care is a money-saver for Medicare when compared to the cost of hospital in-patient care. Hospice care can also be a money-saver for families of patients whose hospitalization coverage is less than complete. But the main concern of families and health care providers should be patient comfort. That is always the top priority of Hope Hospice staff and administrators.

To learn more about hospice and all the elements of care provided, call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. Or click on HopeHospiceStL.com.

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.