Learn how hospice provides care at home for your terminally ill loved one.

How Does Hospice Provide Care at Home?

Published June 24th, 2016

A common misconception surrounding hospice care is that hospice itself is a place. Hospice isn’t a physical place, but a holistic care philosophy that is focused on providing comfort not only to terminally ill patients, but to the patient’s caregivers, family, and friends as well. Though hospice care can be provided at an inpatient facility should your loved one’s condition demand it, the majority of hospice care is provided wherever your loved one calls home.

Hospice care is dedicated to your loved one’s total wellbeing and maximizing the fullness and comfort of life...
The hospice team is the key to quality end-of-life hospice care at home.

The Hospice Team: The Key to Quality Hospice Care

The key to providing holistic end-of-life care lies in your loved one’s multidisciplinary hospice team. The hospice team, comprised of highly-trained medical, psychosocial, and spiritual professionals, works together with one goal in mind: to provide complete comfort for your loved one’s whole person and to provide care and support to you as a caregiver, and to your family and friends.

Primary Care Physician

The primary care physician, if so desired, can be your loved one’s current, trusted physician. The physician’s responsibilities include determining your loved one’s need and candidacy for hospice care, making the initial referral to a hospice program, and can stay on to help actively provide care for your loved one in the comfort of home.

Hospice Medical Director

The hospice medical director is in charge of creating your loved one’s plan of care, ensuring those care goals are met by the care team, and consults with your loved one’s physician concerning improving and adapting care.

Registered Nurse Case Manager

The RN case manager will visit your loved one 2-3 times per week — or more if your loved one requires it — to ensure your loved one’s care needs, and the needs of caregivers and family, are being met and to supervise the care provided.

Social Worker

The social worker sets up a plan of care for your loved one’s psychosocial needs and meets with your loved one, caregivers, and family to provide counseling, emotional support, and to help navigate through the paperwork, financial tasks, and other duties involved in the end-of-life journey.

Chaplain

The chaplain is the non-denominational spiritual care leader of the hospice team. The chaplain helps your loved one, and all connected to them, navigate the spiritual end-of-life journey.

Bereavement Counselor

The bereavement counselor helps your loved one understand and process the feelings of grief that naturally occur with a terminal diagnosis and helps your loved one’s family and friends process the death of your loved one in a healthy manner. Bereavement services, per Medicare regulation, are provided during the entire duration of your loved one’s time within hospice care and up to 13 months following death.

Home Health Aide

The home health aide assists with light around-the-house tasks, provides your loved one with care, and can help educate you, as a caregiver, as to how to best provide end-of-life care for your loved one at home.

Hospice Volunteer

Hospice volunteers help patients and caregivers by assisting with household tasks, errands, preparing meals, and providing companionship.

Caregiver

You, the keystone of the hospice care team, are the primary care provider for your loved one at the end of life, and play a role in nearly every level of care at home.

How does hospice care for patients at home?

How Hospice Cares for Patients at Home

The ultimate goal of hospice patient care is to provide a comfortable, pain free environment — in accordance with the patient’s wishes for end-of-life care — wherein life can be enjoyed as richly as possible.

Pain and Symptom Management

As your loved one’s terminal illness progresses, management of the pain and symptoms associated with the illness will be required. Your loved one’s care team will closely monitor your loved one’s care needs and create a treatment plan that is both in accordance with your loved one’s end-of-life care preferences and designed to provide optimal comfort.

Specialized Therapy Sessions

Specialized therapy sessions, like pet therapy visits, art therapy sessions, and other forms of beneficial therapy can be provided to your loved one at home in order to maximize physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort.

Psychosocial Counseling

A terminal diagnosis brings with it a heavy psychosocial toll. Depression and severe anxiety are common — affecting over 60% of those diagnosed with a terminal illness. Hospice care employs skilled psychosocial counselors who help your loved one understand the end-of-life process and help provide restoration of social and emotional health.

Emotional and Spiritual Counseling

Feelings of regret, anger, and grief are a common occurrence for those nearing the end-of-life. As time grows shorter, many seek to restore broken relationships, mend hurt feelings, and draw closer to friends and loved ones. Hospices provide skilled spiritual and emotional counselors who can help your loved one achieve peace of the spirit and heart prior to death.

Assistance with Activities of Daily Living

Activities like eating, toileting, bathing, and dressing are all normal parts of our daily routine that we would normally take for granted, but may become harder for your loved one as the terminal illness progresses. Hospice provides highly-trained nurses and aides who can help your loved one perform these daily activities in the comfort and security of home and with dignity.

Nutritional Care

As your loved one’s terminal illness progresses and the body begins the dying process, your loved one may not be able to readily process as many calories, be able to properly digest their normal intake of food, or process food and drink at all. Hospice care helps provide both the patient and you, the caregiver, with the information and assistance needed to know what dietary intake is correct, and when and how to make dietary adjustments as needed.

How does hospice care for caregivers at home?

How Hospice Cares for Caregivers at Home

As a caregiver, you will likely bear the majority of the end-of-life care workload, being there for your terminally ill loved one around the clock, and assisting with nearly every facet of daily life. Hospice takes special care to help support you and the crucial role you play on the end-of-life journey by providing training, skilled counseling, education, and care assistance directly to you and your loved one at home.

Assistance with Patient Care

Though caregivers shoulder the majority of care at home, hospice organizations recognize the around-the-clock workload that caregiving demands. Hospice care provides skilled medical staff who help administer medications, assist with activities of daily living, create dietary plans, and provide assistance wherever possible to ensure your loved one’s total comfort and maintenance of caregiver well-being.

Assistance with Tasks and Errands

Your focus as a caregiver is continually placed upon the well-being of your loved one; however, your household and everyday life still continues to place demand upon you. Hospice also extends aid to caregivers in their home life by helping in everyday domestic tasks. Be it light cleaning, cooking, or picking up dry cleaning, hospice provides passionate volunteers who are able to help you keep your domestic duties maintained while you focus on the care and comfort of your loved one.

Respite Care

The demands place upon you by the caregiving role can quickly lead to burnout. Taking breaks, asking for help, and stepping away from caregiving momentarily is absolutely vital to your health. To ensure your well-being as a caregiver, hospice offers respite care: a temporary period of in-patient care that allows you time to unwind, relax, and focus on self-care or tend to household needs.

Caregiver Wellness Support

In addition to offering respite care, hospice also provides you with support and education concerning self-care and how to best keep physically, emotionally, and spiritually sound while adapting to the caregiving role.

End-of-life Care Education

Each diagnosis brings with it its own unique challenges for your loved one and for you as a caregiver. The volume of information surrounding your loved one’s terminal illness and how to apply that knowledge toward the care of your loved one can feel overwhelming. Hospice care provides you with all of the end-of-life care information you will need to have a solid understanding of your loved one’s needs and how you can provide optimal care at home.

Psychosocial, Emotional, and Spiritual Counseling

The stress of caregiving can quickly wear you down, exhausting you physically, mentally, and emotionally. In light of this, hospice provides you with access to skilled counselors who can provide guidance and support for the caregiving journey.

How does hospice care for family and friends of the patient at home?

How Hospice Cares for Family and Friends at Home

When a terminal diagnosis is received, your loved one’s family and friends are also heavily impacted. Hospice, being a holistic approach to end-of-life care, takes special care to extend support to all those close to the heart of your loved one.

End-of-Life Care Education

Your family and friends may be completely unaware as to what symptoms your loved one’s illness may bring about or the demands placed upon you as a caregiver. Hospice seeks to provide family and friends with education concerning your loved one’s specific disease, what to expect as the disease progresses, and how they can help both you and your loved one throughout this process.

Caregiver Support Education

While not every member of your family may be involved in the care of your terminally ill loved one, they can still learn how to support you and your loved one throughout this period. Hospice can provide your family and friends with education and counseling concerning how they can best uplift and support you as a caregiver, and your loved one.

Psychosocial, Emotional, and Spiritual Counseling

The news and progression of a terminal diagnosis can stir powerful emotions between family members and friends. Accusing a loved one of inadequate care as a caregiver, squabbling over what is the best choice for a loved one’s estate, and many other issues can arise after it comes to light that a loved one is facing a terminal illness.

Hospice fully recognizes the familial and relational stress that a terminal diagnosis can bring for you as a caregiver, your family, and everyone connected to your loved one, and offers counseling to help mend these familial bonds in the interest of creating a loving, supportive environment for all during the end-of-life process.

Hospice is holistic care that can be provided at home.

Holistic Care at Home

Hospice care is dedicated to your loved one’s total wellbeing and maximizing the fullness and comfort of life when facing a terminal diagnosis. By bringing quality, holistic care to the patient, hospice allows your loved one to be surrounded by supportive friends, loving family, and enjoy the comforts and security of home.

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References

  1. Fine, Robert L. "Depression, Anxiety, and Delirium in the Terminally Ill Patient." Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center). Baylor Health Care System, 2001. Web. 05 June 2016.
  2. "End of Life Care: An Ethical Overview." University of Minnesota Health Sciences. Center for Bioethics - University of Minnesota, 01 Jan. 2005. Web. 02 June 2016.
  3. Byock, Ira, MD, Stephen Conner, Ph.D, Elliott S. Fisher, MD, David Joranson, MSSW, Diane Meier, MD, Christina Puchalski, MD, Charles Sabatino, JD, Joan Teno, MD, and John Wennberg, MD. "Means to a Better End: A Report on Dying in America Today." Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, n.d. Web. 03 June 2016.
  4. Steele, Rose G., and Margaret I. Fitch. "Needs of family caregivers of patients receiving home hospice care for cancer." Oncology Nursing Forum. Vol. 23. No. 5. 1996 Web. 03 June 2016.

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