Read more on why it doesn't help to wait until the final days to elect hospice coverage.
The hospice conversation can be very challenging, both for the patient and their family and friends. It is important to remember that the overriding focus of hospice care is to HELP:
- H: Provide holistic and comprehensive care for the patient
- E: Support the patient and family with empathy and education
- L: Assure the patient is living as comfortably as possible
- P: Prepare the family and patient for death calmly
It may be helpful to compile a series of conversation points to ensure all concerns, worries, needs, and wants are addressed.
- Where do you want to live?
- Sometimes patients are able to remain in their home. Sometimes it is easier for the patient to live in an assisted living facility. Sometimes a patient will live a portion of time in an assisted living facility and then come home, or vice versa. It is a personal decision that does involve consideration of the needs and abilities of both the patient and the family.
- Who will be providing care for the patient?
- Hospice care provides visits by nurses and caretakers, but only provides 24/7 care when the patient is in a crisis period. Oftentimes, a patient with a terminal diagnosis is able to care for his or herself until the end. However, sometimes a patient needs minimal to maximal assistance with daily needs, from food preparation to bathing to incontinence care (i.e. diaper care). It is usually a family member who provides the care in this situation. If a family member is unable to care for the patient, a home heath nurse may be hired.
- What are the final wishes of the patient?
- This is a very important facet of the hospice conversation. Does the patient wish for CPR or artificial breathing or nutrition? Or does the patient wish for no interventions? It is important to realize that the final wishes of the patient are very personal and can be very fluid as the decline nears.
There Is No Reason To Wait