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Last Updated on November 3, 2021 by Frank Davis
If you or a loved one is living with an advanced medical condition, hospice care may be an option. Hospice is a deeply personal and emotional experience for both the patient and their family. This article will cover what you can expect from hospice care at home, such as:
- Pain management
- Physical, mental and spiritual support
- Emotional, spiritual and bereavement support
- Decisions about life-sustaining treatments
- Assistance with end-of-life planning
Read on to find out how home hospice care can help your family during this difficult time.
What is hospice care?
Hospice care focuses on providing comfort and pain relief to patients who have a terminal illness. It provides services for people in the following situations:
- People who are dying and do not want aggressive forms of treatment
- People with an advanced, progressive disease such as cancer
- People whose disease is unresponsive to treatment or is limited by treatment options
- People who are nearing death and whose symptoms require special support and care
- Caregivers and family members needing support at home.
Hospice care can be provided at home or in a skilled nursing facility, and is available to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria.
What services does hospice provide at home?
Individualized plans of care: Individualized plans of care are created for hospice patients based on their personal needs. These services may include medications, wound care, other medical treatments and other support services such as homemaker visits, transportation and counseling.
Caregiving: Home health aides and nurses may be employed to assist with personal care (bathing, dressing etc.) and household tasks. Such hourly or live-in caregivers can help free up time so family members can rest or focus on caring for other family members. These staff members are available to help with all aspects of hospice care, not just the medical aspects.
Spiritual care: Hospice patients may have spiritual support through a chaplain or counselor. This can be offered either through an in-home chaplain or through visits by professional counselors.
Emotional support: Home hospice can provide emotional support for patients and families. Support staff are available to listen to concerns, answer questions and offer encouragement. Family members can also receive periodic counseling from a grief specialist or mental health professional.
Bereavement services: Hospice patients may be given the opportunity to participate in a group bereavement program. This program is offered by clinicians who have been trained to help people through the grieving process that occurs after a loss.
Social support: Home hospice can provide support from other family members as well as friends and neighbors. These social services may include meals, shopping, housekeeping and transportation.
Financial counseling: Home hospice can provide financial counseling following a patient’s death. Inquire with your local hospice agency about financial counseling or coaching programs available at your facility, or contact a financial advisor for advice on estate planning issues.
Will hospice care help my loved one’s pain?
Hospice aims to make the patient as comfortable as possible. Pain management is an important part of this program and may include:
- Therapy and emotional support
- Morphine pumps, which deliver a continuous dose of pain medication and must be refilled by a medical professional
- Special beds and mattresses, which can help reduce the patient’s discomfort
- Massage therapy, aromatherapy or other treatments to reduce pain or calm agitation.
Is hospice care covered by Medicare?
Medicare is a federal health insurance program that provides help with medical bills and other health-related expenses. Hospice care is covered fully by Medicare Part A (inpatient coverage) and Medicare Part B (outpatient coverage).
If you are enrolled in Medicare, you can receive hospice care at home or in a nursing facility. Depending on your plan, you may also receive hospice services in an assisted living facility or at your personal residence. For more information, contact your local hospice agency or speak directly to the social worker.
Is hospice care covered by Medicaid?
Medicaid is a government-run health insurance program for people who are low income. Hospice care is fully covered by Medicaid for those who meet certain eligibility requirements. If you are enrolled in this program, contact your local hospice agency to discuss financial assistance programs available at your hospice facility.
Will my loved one receive pain medication during hospice care?
The goal of hospice care is to comfort and support patients as they near the end of life. Part of this includes pain management, which may include medications such as:
- Fentanyl patches
- Other injectable or oral medications prescribed by your doctor.
Who can receive hospice care?
You may be eligible for home hospice if all of the following are true:
- You have a terminal condition
- You meet the financial requirements of your insurance plan
- You want to focus on comfort care rather than aggressive treatments.
If you’re interested in learning more about home hospice, contact Hospice Valley of Los Angeles at (818)433-0068. A representative from this agency can come to your home and conduct a needs assessment to see whether you would benefit from this type of care. This assessment is free and does not commit you or your family to using a particular hospice program.
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