Making the decision to enter hospice care
Is hospice the right choice?
Choosing to enter hospice can be a difficult and emotional experience. To transition from curative to palliative care, patients and their families need time to adjust to a mindset of accepting the disease instead of fighting it. Hospice care begins after it is determined curative care is no longer working or desired. Hospice focuses on controlling pain and providing comfort for the patient, as well as support for loved ones.
Who should make the decision for a person to enter a hospice program?
By law, the Patient Self Determination Act of 1990, it’s the patient’s decision. Often, the patient’s doctor and family are also involved in the process.
How will I know when it is time?
Medically speaking, choosing to enter hospice occurs when your physician informs you that curative treatments are no longer desired or an option for your serious, advanced disease. Emotionally, the decision may not occur until much later. It may take a while for a patient to accept what is happening.
When is it best to call hospice?
Patients should enter hospice when they are still able to appreciate the benefits of pain and symptom control. These enable patients to spend the last portion of their lives free from unnecessary pain.
What can I expect from hospice care?
Once a decision has been made to stop curative care, and hospice has become involved, a patient and their loved ones should expect to receive the following:
- A multi-faceted approach to care, including the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of each individual.
- Care that focuses on quality of life, as determined by the patient.
- A team of health care professionals, including a physician, nurses, social workers, nursing assistants, chaplains, and volunteers. This team coordinates with the patient and their family to develop a health care plan unique to each patient, according to their wishes.
- Caregiver training and family support.
- Medical equipment, medications, and supplies related to the patient’s illness.
What if I want to go back to regular treatment?
Individuals can leave hospice care at any time. They can also be readmitted to hospice care at a later date. Our staff can answer any questions you may have about hospice. They will come to you and will discuss specific program details and go over issues unique to your situation. We recommend that any decision makers, including a spouse and/or adult children be present for the meeting. This way, all loved ones are included in the care plan designed for the patient.