Hospice volunteers and employees are sometimes called angels by patients and family members due to their kindness and calmness at a particularly traumatic time. We at Above and Beyond Home Health Care heartily agree with this assessment, but we also extend our admiration to anyone who chooses to work in the health care field.
As far as we’re concerned, they’re all extra special people who take great pride in providing comfort to all their patients.
These services can range from quality nursing care and medication management to specialized skills like massage therapy to simply offering a good ear for listening, and, if needed, a good shoulder and the occasional box of tissue for crying.
Special consideration needs to go to people who work in hospice care, however. For some patients and their families who may be dealing with the end-of-life process for the first time, everything can be confusing and emotionally difficult. There are often tough decisions to be made, difficult conversations to have, and hard good-byes to make.
So the services of compassionate medical professionals, many who have worked in this industry for years, can be welcomed and appreciated. Though each patient and situation is unique, they’ll at least be able to draw on their past experiences to help people navigate some of the difficult areas of this process.
Hospice workers can become a valued resource to explain some of the different terms that patients have questions about. This is what hospice is really about: letting patients have a say in how they manage their final time so they can maximize time with loved ones and manage any pain, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach that may not be satisfying or compassionate for everyone.
This month is a good time to learn more about home health care and hospice programs in the Cedar Rapids area.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has declared November to be National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. The NHPCO encourages hospice programs around the country to raise awareness of their services and of hospice as an option. Doctors and other health care providers can also benefit from learning more about hospice services in their area, since they’ll often be making referrals.
The campaign’s theme for 2017 is “It’s about how you live,” recognizing how hospice can provide opportunities and resources for patients to choose how they manage their final days. This approach can be ultimately rewarding for the quality of life for patients as well as any loved ones around them.
A basic question that comes up often is “what’s the difference between palliative care and hospice care?” (And a related question: where does home health care fit into this?)
It’s actually easier to say how they’re similar than how they differ. Both help people at or near the end stage of their lives. According to the NHPCO, they both focus on symptom control, pain management, psychosocial support and spiritual care.
The patient and their quality of life is important, but part of the focus is also on providing similar support to loved ones and family members who are part of the patient’s journey, whether it takes place in a few months, weeks or days. Both the patient and their family can receive practical advice as well, including what kind of financial and similar end-of-life arrangements should be taken care of.
Generally, palliative care has a focus more on symptom control and pain management, whether or not a serious condition can be cured or improved. Providers can look to the future and will discuss different options with the patient and family members. Quality of life is emphasized for someone aggressively battling a disease.
Hospice care is where providers conclude that their treatment methods will no longer be effective and the patient has about six months or less to live. But the pain management regimen and focus on quality of life can continue.
With some patients, a referral to hospice care can provide some freedom – they no longer have to have to undergo regular testing or follow restrictive “doctors orders.” They’re welcome to go home rather than be stuck in a hospital, and then they can access home health care services.
Doctors who specialize in palliative care have received additional training in symptom control and pain management, plus how to work with patients and families to consider different treatment options. They also can consult with a primary care provider who may be more familiar with a particular patient’s medical background, and often can be part of an interdisciplinary team focused on the patient.
Some patients who enter hospice care, recover and come off hospice care; others may continue to decline.
Home health can help
Quality and compassionate services are available from Above and Beyond Home Health Care to hospice and non-hospice patients, and there also can be a seamless transition if an existing patient is placed under hospice care. Hospice and non-hospice patients also receive access to the same services, including skilled nursing care and massage therapy. A home health or hospice aide can also provide helpful household services to patients, including light housekeeping, laundry or meal preparation and feeding.
For more information about different services for patients, visit Above and Beyond Home Health Care.