Here are some of the questions most often asked about hospice care. We hope they will help you better understand the hospice concept.
1. When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made - and who should make it?
At any time during a life-limiting illness, it's appropriate to discuss all of a patient's care options, including hospice. By law, the decision belongs to the patient. Understandably, most people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping an all-out effort to "beat" their disease. Professional Health Care's hospice staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and are always available to discuss them with the patient, family, and physician. It is not uncommon for our Hospice care team to receive reports of their patients actually experiencing an overall improvement in quality of life once hospice care is initiated.
2. Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?
The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other healthcare professionals, clergy, or friends.
3. Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
Certainly! If improvement in the condition occurs and the disease seems to be in remission, the patient can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy, or go on about his/her daily life.
If a discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private insurance will allow additional coverage for this purpose.
4. What does the hospice admission process involve?
One of the fist things hospice will do is consult with the patient, their family, and their physician so that our Medical Director can determine if the patient is appropriate for hospice care at this time. (Professional Health Care has medical staff available to help patients who have no physician.) The patient will also be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital.
5. Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?
Your hospice provider will assess your needs, recommend any necessary equipment, and help make arrangements to obtain it. Often, the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the disease progresses.
Professional Health Care will assist in any way we can to make home care as convenient and safe as possible!
6. How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?
There's no set number. One of the first things the Professional Health Care hospice team will do is prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of care-giving a patient needs. Hospice staff visit regularly and are always accessible to answer questions and provide support. It is necessary for each patient to designate one spokesperson to communicate treatment decisions to the hospice team in the event that the patient is not able to do so.
7. Must someone be with the patient at all times?
In the early weeks of care, it's usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. Later, however, since one of the most common fears of patients is the fear of dying alone, hospice generally encourages someone to be there continuously. This is a decision made based upon the needs of the patient.
While family and friends must be relied on to give most of the care, Professional Health Care does strive to provide volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time away for major caregivers.
8. How difficult is caring for a dying loved one?
It's never easy and sometimes can be quite hard. At the end of a long, progressive illness, nights especially can be very long, lonely, and scary. Professional Health Care has staff available around the clock to consult with the family and to make night visits as appropriate. Many tell us that while care-giving is one of the hardest jobs they've ever taken on, it is definitely the most rewarding.
9. What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?
Hospice patients are cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, spiritual caregivers, therapists, and volunteers - and each provides assistance based on his/her area of expertise. In addition, hospices provide medications, supplies, equipment, hospital services, and additional helpers in the home, as appropriate.
10. Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
Professional Health Care Hospice does nothing either to speed up or slow down the dying process. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, so we provide our presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.
11. Is the home the only place hospice care can be delivered?
No. Although most hospice services are delivered in a personal residence, some patients are cared for in nursing homes or hospice centers. Studies show that more than 90% of patients prefer to die at home: Professional Health Care Hospice is very successful in making this goal a reality for our patients.
12. How does hospice "manage pain"?
Professional Health Care Hospice nurses and doctors are up-to-date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. In addition, physical and occupational therapists assist patients to be as mobile and self-sufficient as possible.
Professional Health Care believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so we address these as well. Counselors, including spiritual caregivers, are available to assist family members as well as patients.
13. What is the hospice's success rate in battling pain?
Very high! Using some combination of medications, counseling, and therapies, most patients can attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them.
14. Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what's happening?
Usually not. It is the goal of hospice to help patients be as comfortable and alert as they desire. By constantly consulting with the patient, Professional Health Care has been very successful in reaching this goal.
15. Is hospice care covered by insurance?
Hospice coverage is widely available. It is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in some 47 states, and by most private health insurance companies. To be sure of coverage, families should, of course, check with their employer or health insurance provider.
16. If the patient is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will hospice still provide care?
The first thing hospice will do is assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of. Barring this, Professional Health Care will strive to provide care for those who cannot pay, by using available money raised from the community or from memorials, or Professional Health Care Foundation gifts.
17. Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
Professional Health Care provides continuing contact and bereavement support for family and friends for at least a year following the death of a loved one.
Professional Health Care is located at 4347 Crow Rd. in Beaumont, Texas.