What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is a type of healthcare focusing on the palliation of a terminally ill patient’s pain and symptoms and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs during the end of life. Additionally, hospice care agencies like Journey Hospice Care Inc. offer peace and comfort to patients and their families by reducing the stress, pain and other symptoms of a terminal illness. This type of specialized healthcare is not just for the final days of life. It is about providing the best quality of life possible when life expectancy is limited.
When is Hospice Care Needed?
When a patient with a terminal illness starts to decline in health and standard treatment is no longer an option, it is time to consider hospice care. Here are 10 physical signs that may indicate hospice care is needed:
- Frequent or recurring infections
- Rapid decline in health
- Frequent hospitalizations or trips to the ER
- Uncontrolled pain, nausea, or vomiting
- Increase in the amount of time spent sleeping
- Loss of urinary or bowel control
- Chest congestion and/or rapid breathing
- Decrease in food and/or fluid intake
- Changes in body temperature (fever or feeling cool to the touch)
- Inability to perform daily tasks without assistance
You should also look for changes in mental and emotional health.
Here are some of the most common hospice diagnosis:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory Illnesses
Who Qualifies for Hospice Care?
In order for a patient to qualify for hospice care, a medical doctor must certify that the patient is terminally ill and has a life expectancy of 6 months or less if the disease runs its expected course. Additionally, the hospice care agency’s Medical Director must also agree with the doctor’s assessment in order for the patient to be eligible.
Who Pays for Hospice Care?
Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, the Veteran’s Health Administration, and the majority of private health insurers. If a patient does not have health coverage, our team at Journey Hospice Care Inc. is dedicated to helping the families and patients with resources for additional assistance.
According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, more than 85% of patients receiving hospice care are covered by the Medicare Hospice Benefit.
Can I Receive Hospice Care at Home?
There is a common misunderstanding that hospice is a place where patients go to receive care. Hospice is not a physical place like a nursing home or assisted living facility but is a type of specialized healthcare focusing on the palliation of a terminally ill patient’s pain and symptoms and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs at the end of life. The goal of hospice is not to prolong death but to provide the patient with the best quality of life possible during the final stages of life. Hospice agencies most often provide services in the patient’s home. Hospice care can also be provided by free-standing or independent facilities specially designed to provide hospice care, or through programs based in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, or other health care systems. Some hospice agencies offer both care in the home and care in an inpatient facility. 
What Happens in Hospice Care?
Depending on the patient’s level of pain and care needed, a hospice patient may have an in-home aid or other hospice care team members on call. The hospice team will collectively come up with a care plan that best suits the patient and make necessary adjustments according to the patient’s individual needs. Daily check-ins with their doctor, nurses, speech and occupational therapists, as well as psychological and spiritual counselors are common in hospice care. Not only does the hospice care team provide ongoing support for the patient but for their family and loved ones as well.
Signs It’s Time for Hospice Care
These signs may indicate it’s time to find out if hospice or palliative care may be right for your loved one:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Decreased alertness
- Increased time sleeping
- More frequent falls
- Increased need for medication due to uncontrolled pain or symptoms
- Difficulties performing daily tasks
- Increased number of trips to the ER or multiple hospitalizations
If you believe it may be time for your loved one to begin receiving hospice care, our team at Journey Hospice Care Inc. is here to answer any questions you may have. Speak with a member of our team today at 909-252-7073 or email us at [email protected].