In all the years that I worked as a Hospice Social Worker the one thing I heard the most often was, “I wish we had called Hospice sooner.”
It is normal for families to put off the Hospice conversation because people feel like they are ‘giving up’. So, now is a good opportunity to provide you with information on what Hospice is about and when is the right time to ask for it.
According to an article written by the ‘Crossroads Hospice’ there is a list of things to look for to help determine if it is time to investigate Hospice. They are as follows:
Frequent visits to the ER or hospital, a decline in ability to perform daily tasks (eating, dressing self, walking or independently using the bathroom), increase in falls, changes in cognitive status, weight loss, infections.
If these things are happening it is time to visit your loved one’s physician about a referral to Hospice. The criteria to qualify for Hospice care is a diagnosis of a terminal condition with less than 6 months to live. If your loved one lives beyond the 6 months’ timeframe, they may continue to receive hospice care if their physician recertifies their eligibility.
So, now that you have the referral what will happen next?
Once the physician has made the referral you can expect a phone call from Hospice to set up a home visit. Generally, a nurse and social worker would come for that first visit and get all the admission paperwork completed. During that first visit it is decided what services are needed at that time, this changes as the illness and needs progress.
So, what all does Hospice offer?
Nurses, nurses’ aides, social workers, chaplains and volunteers. The goal of Hospice is to add extra support to the patient and family/caregivers. This team will help to provide physical, medical, emotional and spiritual support as needed.
How much does all this cost?
Hospice is 100% covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance companies. Any medications related to the terminal illness and all medical equipment and supplies related to the diagnosis are provided.
This service helps both the family and patient have more quality time together as well as giving the caregiver much needed breaks. Having all these professionals available to a person takes the guess work out of caregiving and allows the family to ‘be the family’ and not just caregivers. It is a true Gift to everyone involved.
Don’t wait too long, it is a Great Program.
St. Josephs Hospice, Park Rapids – 218-303-9549
Hospice of the Red River Valley, Detroit Lakes – 218-303-9549
– Laurel Hed