Hospice involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support tailored to the individual’s needs and wishes. Support is provided to the person's loved ones as well.
Hospice focuses on providing support and care for an individual with a life-limiting illness; the focus of the care is comfort oriented, not curative. In most cases care is provided in the person’s home. Hospice can also be provided in freestanding hospice facilities, hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term facilities.
Hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team that includes:
• Clergy or other counselors;
• Home health aides;
• Hospice physician (or medical director);
• Social workers;
• Trained volunteers;
• Speech, physical, and occupational therapists, if needed.
• The person's personal physician may also be included.
Among its major responsibilities, the interdisciplinary hospice team:
• Manages the person’s pain and symptoms;
• Provides emotional support;
• Provides needed medications, medical supplies, and equipment;
• Coaches loved ones on how to care for the person;
• Delivers special services like speech and physical therapy when needed;
• Makes short-term inpatient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or the caregiver needs respite time; and
• Provides grief support to surviving loved ones and friends.
Support can include conversations with the person and family members, teaching caregiving skills, prayer, telephone calls to loved ones, including family members who live at a distance and companionship and help from volunteers.
After the person's death, bereavement support is offered to families for at least one year. These services can take a variety of forms, including telephone calls, visits, written materials about grieving, and support groups. Individual counseling may be offered by the hospice or the hospice may make a referral to a community resource.
Hospice is paid for through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Arkansas Medicaid Hospice Benefit, and most private insurers. If a person does not have coverage through Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance company, hospice will work with the person and their family to ensure needed services can be provided.
Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.
Palliative care treats people suffering from serious and chronic illnesses such as cancer, cardiac disease such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and many more.
Palliative care focuses on symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and depression. It also helps you gain the strength to carry on with daily life. It improves your ability to tolerate medical treatments. And it helps you have more control over your care by improving communication so that you can better understand your choices for treatment.
Palliative care is a team approach to care. The core team includes doctor, nurse and social work palliative care specialists. Massage therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists, chaplains and others may also be part of the team.
The team spends as much time as necessary with you and your family. They become a partner with you, your family and your other doctors. They support you and your family every step of the way, not only by controlling your symptoms, but also by helping you to understand your treatment options and goals. Working together with your primary doctor, the palliative care team provides:
1. Close communication
2. Expert management of pain and other symptoms
3. Help navigating the healthcare system
4. Guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices
5. Emotional and spiritual support for you and your family
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness, you may benefit from palliative care. Speak to your doctor and ask for it. Bring the handout with you, since not all doctors are familiar with palliative care and its many benefits.