Choosing hospice care for a loved one is an emotional process. It’s difficult to make end-of-life decisions and sometimes these fears are heightened by the many misconceptions that exist about hospice. Even though the end-of-life process is unsettling, we can say with confidence that hospice can be a positive experience for patients and families.
To help rethink hospice and what it could mean for your family, let’s address four misconceptions about end-of-life care and the facts.
1. Hospice is a place you go to when no other options are left.
Hospice is not a place. It is a philosophy of care that provides medical, emotional and spiritual support to the patient and their family. The goal of hospice is to improve the quality of life, which is achieved by managing symptoms like pain, restlessness, and nausea. This level of care can be delivered in a hospital or hospice center, though most care is delivered in the patient’s home.
It’s true that people enter hospice when a cure is no longer possible, but this does not mean that the patient has no hope. Their symptoms are managed, and living each day to the fullest becomes the new focus.
2. Quality end-of-life care is expensive.
Most families pay little to nothing for hospice care. The Medicare hospice benefit pays for hospice services, providing that the patient is entitled to Part A of Medicare and certified by a physician as being terminally ill, with six months or less to live.
If the patient lives longer than six months, hospice can usually be continued as long as the physician certifies them as being terminally ill. In addition to Medicare, most private insurance plans, HMOs and managed care plans include hospice coverage.
3. Hospice care is only for the patient.
Many people are surprised to learn that hospice is not just for the patient but the entire family unit. In fact, most hospice teams include a hospice volunteer, skilled nurse, social worker, chaplain and home health aide. Family members receive professional training in caring for their loved one as well as emotional and spiritual support.
4. Choosing hospice means that all medical treatment is stopped.
People enter hospice when they have a terminal illness, so any drugs used to cure the illness are stopped. However, other medications will still be used to manage the patient’s symptoms. This includes pain medications and antidepressants. Check out our palliative care program for more information on managing an illness.
Additionally, those in hospice may continue seeing their regular doctors, including their dentist, ophthalmologist and primary care physician. Curative treatment is no longer the main focus, but patients still receive medical care.
Hospice care offers more care, not less. To learn more about the hospice services available from VNA Health Group, contact us today.