Hospice Care Basics

What is Hospice?

Hospice is a type of health care that focuses on providing support to a terminally ill patient.  Specifically, hospice focuses 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.

 Hospice Is Not A Place

It is more of a way of care.  It consists of a group of highly skilled professionals whose sole job is to provide medical, psychological, social, spiritual care to an individual and their family.  The team consists of doctors, nurses, certified nurse aides, chaplains, social workers, volunteers, pharmacy staff, therapy (occupational, physical and speech therapy), and  support office staff.  This team is available to you day and night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Hospice care prioritizes comfort and quality of life by reducing pain and suffering. Focus remains on allowing the patient to live as well as possible for as long as possible, increasing quality of life.  Hospice is NOT meant to be used in the last days of life.  It is meant to provide so much more, typically for the last 6 months of life or longer as long as there is a decline in condition of the patient.

Care is provided by an interdisciplinary team (IDT) of professionals who address physical, medical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs of the patient and their family.  Focus of care remains on reducing suffering by proper symptom management, coordination of care, appropriate communication to allow for clarification of goals of care and emphasize quality of life. 

How Exactly?

The Hospice Team comes to where you live (at your home, independent living facility, assisted living facility, nursing home, or hospital).  They move with you as long as you are in the service area of the hospice.  We are here to support you the patient, as well as your family during the illness and after.  We are here to make sure you don't feel alone, and your loved one's don't get overwhelmed. 

We provide physician directed care, review of medications, adjustment of medications to treat you or your loved one's symptoms.

Nursing care to assess changes a minimum of once a week (usually more).  We have taken the time to teach our nursing staff how to see patients the Lenity Way.  Staff have in person training on how to assess patients, what to look for.  Ongoing education during IDT meetings discussing medical changes to look for, how to address them, and education to be provided to the family.  Nurses are trained on how to teach.  They spend time teaching you and your family about your disease process, how to take care of it and how to adjust with the changes that are expected to come.

You Are Never Alone

Psychological and Social support as needed.   Our staff is highly trained to help with any needs that may arise.  There is a lot going on during this time, and it is nice to know trained staff is available if you need them.  We understand everyone processes things differently, and some patients and families don't need this support.  However, knowing there is trained staff here should that ever change is always a blessing.  Our social workers help with any medical documentation you may need to complete.  They also help with documentations you may not know you needed.  That's ok, that's why we are here.

Spiritual Support as needed.  Support as you need it.  Again, not everyone is ready to talk to a Chaplain.  Not everyone wants to talk to a Chaplain.  Some have their own support from their own religious organizations.  We are here regardless.  It could be to talk about the meaning of life, to play a game of checkers, to debate politics, or just to shoot the breeze.  There are different kinds of spiritual support, not all of them involve praying.  We are here to offer as much or little as you of your family want/need.

Home Health Aides/Certified Nursing Assistants as needed.  Certified Nursing Aides help with basic activities of daily living.  They help with dressing, cleaning, bathing, toileting, and anything else you may need.  They help clean up your room, tidy up as needed, help with dishes, laundry, etc.  Their role is limited to assisting the patient with their needs.  This is  a much needed and requested service of hospice to let the pressure off the caregiver. 

Medical Supplies/Equipment - Hospice pays for medical supplies (adult briefs, gloves, dressings, etc.), medications related to the terminal illness, DME Equipment (Hospital bed, walker, wheelchair, shower chair, etc.), Oxygen supplies, and anything else that may come up related to the terminal condition.   On top of this, we spend time to teach you how to use the equipment properly, how to give the medications, how to anticipate decline, and what to do in case of emergencies. 

24/7 Care, 365 Days of the Year. We are ALWAYS here, whenever you need us.

24/7 Care.  We are the new 911.  You call us for anything and everything.  We are available to you whenever you need us.  You will never be left alone to fend for yourself. Even if there is a disaster, we have a backup plan already in place for you, ready to go to make sure you will be taken care of. 

What about my PCP?  We understand your primary care physician has been with you for years and is practically part of your family.  NO, with hospice, you do NOT have to give up your PCP if you don't want to.  Now, most physicians choose to allow hospice and palliative care physicians to take over care during the hospice election because the care gets so complicated, and the amount of time required for coordination is usually more than most physicians have.  However, if your PCP chooses to remain involved, we encourage and support it!  We take time to call your PCP a minimum of twice a month, usually more as needed to update them on your condition and send them notes detailing your care plan.