During the final stage of life, many people who would have preferred to remain home spend their last days in a medical facility (e.g., a hospital or nursing home). To prevent this, older adults who have the desire to remain home must plan ahead. By providing family members, physicians, and caregivers with information about their end-of-life preferences, patients can greatly increase the likelihood that this wish comes to fruition.
Hospice Care Allows Patients To Spend Their Last Days at Home
Today, with hospice care, individuals who have a terminal illness can remain at home where they are most comfortable. In addition, loved ones can spend time with them in a more relaxed setting and beloved pets can remain a part of their lives.
About Hospice Care
Hospice care is an option that allows patients to avoid submitting to life-extending therapies that could cause physical and cognitive impairments. Even though patients are at home, they receive everything they need to remain as comfortable as possible (e.g., medication to reduce pain and address symptoms) during this final stage of life. Nurses who provide hospice care can also help patients with their spiritual and emotional wellness.
Hospice Care May Also Be Available for Individuals With a Chronic Condition or Critical Illness
Despite an individual’s age, hospice care may also be an option for individuals who have a chronic condition (e.g., human immunodeficiency virus [HIV/AIDS], chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]). In addition, an individual who has a critical illness that could lead to death (e.g., cancer, coronary artery bypass surgery) may also be eligible to receive hospice care.
Frequency of Visits for Patients Receiving Hospice Care
Patients may receive care from a hospice nurse several times a week, or on a daily basis. These home visits usually last about an hour. In this circumstance, family members must supplement their loved one’s hospice care. Nonetheless, some patients require continuous care. Medicare recognizes this, allowing patients who have an acute need for skilled nursing to receive continuous care or 24-hour hospice care.
Continuous Hospice Care Recipients
Continuous care (aka crisis care) is a term that relates to a patient receiving in-home care from a hospice nurse that lasts at least 8-hours, but up to 24-hours a day. This type of care is typically reserved for those experiencing a crisis.
Continuous Care and Medicare
According to Medicare, imminent death is not a qualification for an individual to receive continuous care. Instead, the need for continuous care typically corresponds with the last hours of a patient’s life.
A patient may need continuous hospice care so the nurse can:
- Monitor and treat seizures.
- Control the patient’s symptoms by providing frequent care or medication adjustments.
- Observe oxygenation problems.
Medicare typically considers patients who require palliative care as those in need of 24-hour hospice care.
About Palliative Care
The goal of palliative care is to improve the general wellness of individuals who have a chronic condition or terminal illness by addressing the symptoms and the stress associated with having these medical issues. Due to the support palliative care offers, it may also be beneficial for other caregivers, as well as the patient’s loved ones.
Every patient is unique, therefore, Mission Healthcare’s hospice nurses create custom-designed care plans with specific goals for each patient.
The goals of a patient’s customized care plan may include the nurse:
- Answering questions about treatment options, so the patient has a better understanding of his or her choices.
- Coordinating the patient’s care.
- Alleviating the symptoms associated with the patient’s illness or condition.
- Providing support by identifying and accessing additional resources for the patient, as well as for his or her family.
- Answering questions to improve the patient’s and family members’ understanding of the condition or illness itself, as well as its expected progression.
- Identifying and supporting the patient’s practical and spiritual needs.
- Easing any side effects resulting from treatment.
- Helping the patient work through feelings related to any changes associated with his or her illness, or condition.
A 24-hour Stay at a Personal Care Home
Taking care of a loved one during his or her final stage of life frequently causes the caregiver to feel physically and emotionally exhausted. For this reason, to give the caregiver some time to rest, Medicare may allow the hospice provider to move the patient to a personal care home. The patient can remain here for up to 24 hours.
Supplementing Hospice Care With a Private-pay Home Care Company
Patients who qualify for hospice care, but do not have a family member available to care for them in between the visits from their hospice nurse, may want to consider hiring a private-pay home care company.
The private nurse or aide can care for the patient in between his or her visits from a hospice nurse. For example, if a patient has continuous hospice care for 8-hours a day, the private aide or nurse can cover the other 16 hours.
A private aide or nurse is a feasible option for those who can afford this type of service. Patients who would like to use a private-pay home care company should speak with their hospice nurse to see if he or she has any recommendations because there may be certain companies that the hospice agency frequently works with.
Mission Healthcare has compassionate, experienced, and reliable medical professionals available to provide the at-home care that you or your loved one needs. Each of Mission Healthcare’s hospice care professionals strives to help the patient and his or her family find solace.
Please click here to find your nearest Mission Healthcare location.