As therapists, Live Well Counseling Services, LLC has worked with hospice on multiple occasions. We provide counseling to people on hospice, people contemplating end of life decisions, and families struggling to cope with the loss of loved ones. Hospice is a great philosophy of care that shares a lot of the same values that we do.
To many, the word “hospice” is scary, meaning end of life. People often think hospice is a company called in to take care of a dying person. This is often the case but is much more than care at the very end of a person’s life. To qualify for hospice, a person must have a terminal diagnosis. They are usually estimated to have six months or less to live. Some people are on hospice longer if they live past six months, but their medical status has not improved.
Hospice care is care focused on the quality of a person’s life rather than the quantity of life. Hospice companies offer many services to enrich the lives of people who may not have a lot of time left on earth. They provide counseling to those on hospice and their families. They also set up care for people in their homes, assisted living communities, or in skilled nursing facilities. Social workers, nurses, doctors, and nursing aids assist in a person’s care to meet their needs. When a person is focused on quality of life, their medications to sustain life long term are typically removed. Medications and equipment to manage a person’s pain and instill comfort are added to their regimen.
People can be on hospice care in a variety of settings. When people are on hospice in the nursing home, hospice comes into the home to provide additional care. Hospice does not pay for the room and board, nor does Medicare. Hospice is available to people living at home. Hospice will not provide around the clock care, but they do guide families to care for their loved ones at home. Hospice provides any necessary equipment in the home, such as a hospital bed, oxygen, or bedside commode. Hospice is available in the hospital setting if a person meets the necessary strict criteria put forth by insurance companies and Medicare. If a person stays in the hospital for hospice, they must require a comfort intervention that needs to be administered in a hospital setting. IV pain medications or a bi-pap are common reasons to stay hospitalized for hospice care. In all these settings, the hospice team manages a person’s care.
Hospice also has programs in place for family members after someone has passed. They usually call families for a few months to see how they are doing after loosing someone close to them. A lot of hospice agencies also have support groups for those struggling to deal with loss. Hospice doesn’t just treat their patients, they treat the whole family.