It used to be that the term “hospice care” meant you were terminally ill and dying. It was a frightening word whispered under your breath so your parent or loved one didn’t think it was their end-of-life and give up.
At FirstLight Home Care, we have provided hospice care for people who recover and rehabilitate and resume their normal lives. Basically hospice care can mean that dying is a possibility versus a guaranteed reality. Patients can go in and out of hospice care as needed.
What Is Hospice Care?
Hospice is indeed for those who have a limited life expectancy with the physician feeling that death could occur within the next six months. However, hospice care can be provided for longer than six months as long as the person’s doctor and hospice care team certify that the condition remains life-limiting. It’s not about trying to “cure” the disease, such as undergoing life-saving chemotherapy treatments. It’s more about a quality of life – ensuring that the patient is comfortable emotionally, physically and spiritually, and out of pain or distress until the end of life.
Understand that hospice is not always a place – it’s primarily a service although there are facilities dedicated solely to hospice. Hospice is usually conducted in home, or a long-term care facility, assisted living, retirement community, rest home or hospital. Hospice caregivers work to enhance the quality of life that is remaining so patients can be as alert and comfortable as possible in a familiar environment with family and friends. Usually a family member serves as the primary caregiver and a hospice team provides services as needed.
Although we often think of the term hospice care in connection with seniors, hospice can apply to anyone of any age with any illness.
What Services Does Hospice Provide?
Generally, a hospice interdisciplinary team (IDT) can provide a combination of the following services:
- Medical services provided under the care of a physician and nurse.
- Social services to advise families and act as a community advocate.
- Spiritual services provided b y a clergy in your designated religion.
- Home care services provided by home care agencies such as FirstLight to help with bathing, dressing, meal preparation and more.
- Physical, occupational and speech therapy to provide guidance on tasks that may have become cumbersome due to illness such as walking, talking and feeding.
- Respite care to provide your family caregiver with a break.
- Bereavement services to help surviving family members cope with the death of a loved one
Who Pays For Hospice?
If the patient has Medicare and meets the criteria for hospice, Medicare pays 100% of the costs with no deductible or co-payment. Even medical supplies, equipment and prescriptions are covered during this time. Individuals who are not on Medicare must talk to their private insurance company to see what is covered. Medicaid payments vary by state and The Department of Veteran Affairs covers hospice costs as well.
For hospice to be covered under Medicare, a physician must evaluate the patient and determine that he/she has less than six months to live if the illness is left to run its course. Patients must sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare benefits and receive care from a Medicare hospice approved hospice program. For more guidelines on Medicare coverage refer to Medicare Hospice Benefits.
How FirstLight Home Care Helps With Hospice Care
At FirstLight Home Care, our hospice services focus on compassionate care versus cure. Our caregivers work in tandem with physicians, social workers, nurses, and occupational and physical therapists to ensure patients are comfortable and peaceful and get the medical and physical support that is needed. If patients recover, we are elated! If not, we provide the assistance both patients and families need to have a comfortable quality of life when the length of life is limited.
Patients don’t need their last days to be in the cold, sterile environment of a hospital, preferring instead to be around family and friends that you love. At FirstLight Home Care, we make sure your loved ones last days are filled with love, dignity, purpose and support.
For more information on hospice care, please give is a call. Have a question? Feel free to ask Nurse Gina, our RN who helps family members get the information they need to make informed decisions.