When is Hospice Care Appropriate?
Hospice care should be considered anytime you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. It is appropriate to discuss all of the care options available with your physician, including hospice.
Common illnesses appropriate for hospice care include the later stages of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, AIDS, and ALS, among others. Patients diagnosed with these illnesses are eligible for hospice care when their physician determines that, given the natural course of the illness, life expectancy is six months or less. At that time, comfort care and symptom management become the primary focus, and continuing treatment is no longer beneficial or desired by the patient.
Hospice care provides a higher level of support, unlike any other. Premier Hospice teams provide care to patients wherever they call home including a personal residence, home of a loved one, assisted living or skilled nursing facility.
Premier Hospice cares for each patient and family by providing expert care in pain relief and symptom management, emotional and spiritual counseling (if desired) and grief support. The most frequent thing we hear from patients and families is, “we wish we would have called you sooner.”
Multiple admissions to the hospital in a short period of time:
• Unexplained weight loss with a noticeable difference in how clothing fits
• Spending most of the day in a chair or bed
• Shortness of breath while sitting or lying down
• Multiple falls within a 6-month period
• Symptoms (such as pain) have become unmanageable
Information on Caring Connections (http://www.caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1) can assist people in making decisions about end of life care and services before they are absolutely needed. It is offered as a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, https://www.nhpco.org/ which also provides quality resource materials and information.
The National Hospice Foundation https://www.nationalhospicefoundation.org/ and the Hospice Foundation (https://hospicefoundation.org/) offer valuable supporting resources as well.
• Hospice physician
• The patient’s primary care physician
• Registered nurse case manager
• Medical social workers
• Certified nursing assistants
• Chaplain/Spiritual counselors
• Certified specialized therapist (as needed)
• Grief counselors
• Volunteers (as needed)
• On call registered nurse available 24/7
While the entire team is available to care for and support the patient and his or her family, the patient is at the center, directing care and support. A patient can choose to forgo the services of some members of the team. (For example, if a patient has a relationship with their parish pastor, he or she may decline the services of our chaplain. Or if a patient has a large family and the caregiver has a large support structure a volunteer to provide respite care my not be necessary.)