Hospice is a subject that many fear discussing, much less considering and using. There is a perception that Hospice is only for cancer patients just before their death.
Hospice is a surprisingly misunderstood and underutilized program. Hospice is not limited to cancer patients. It is available to anyone who has a terminal illness, under certain circumstances.
Generally, to qualify for Hospice, you must have a diagnosis of a likelihood of death within six months and are not seeking curative care (treatment that is intended to cure the patient). Hospice will provide what is called palliative care. Palliative care is comfort care.
Hospice care focuses on pain management and physical comfort. Hospice also provides for the psychological and spiritual well-being of both the ill person and of the family.
Hospice is funded through Medicare, Medicaid and some insurances. Hospice also cares for those who have no insurance. Hospice pays for the medications, equipment and supplies related to the terminal illness. It will provide nursing care, whether it is at home, an assisted living facility, a nursing home, or a Hospice house.
Once in the Hospice program, the Hospice Team follows orders from the attending physician. The patient is visited by a Hospice nurse in their living setting. They are also visited by a social worker on a regular basis. Even a spiritual advisor will come on a regular basis.
Hospice will provide a home health assistant if one is necessary. That home health aid can help with bathing and personal care.
Hospice also has a wonderful network of volunteers. To be a Hospice volunteer, you have to have sixteen hours of training. That volunteer is a friend to both the patient and the patient’s family. They try to visit on a regular basis and help the Hospice patient. The volunteer may help the Hospice patient run errands or just sit and visit with the patient.
An important component of Hospice care is bereavement counseling. Such bereavement counseling can occur both before and after the death of the patient. Hospice will follow the family for a year or more after the death of the patient. Many times there are support groups available. Hospice will provide to the grieving family literature, visits to the home, phone calls, and whatever else is needed or wanted by the family. Some families want a high level of post-death assistance, and some families want very little. The program is tailored to whatever is needed by that particular family.
Hospice programs do vary. Some Hospice programs are for-profit and some are not-for-profit. However, the same rules apply for all the programs.
I spoke with a representative of the Hospice program located in Hays, Kansas. The Hospice program in Hays is known as the Hospice Palliative Care and Life Line of the Hays Medical Center. Dr. Fields is its medical director and Reverend Bill Miller is its clergy. That particular program has four nurses, one home health care aid, one social worker, one medical director, one spiritual director, and forty-five volunteers. Sue Noll is its Clinical Supervisor.
Many thanks to Sue Noll for much of the information that is included in this article.
There are numerous Hospice programs in Kansas. I did a Google internet check and found a website listing forty-three different Hospice facilities in Kansas. If you would like more information, check out the following website, http://www.healthcarehiring.com/hospice_kansas.html, or call my office at (877) 325-8040 or (785) 625-8040, and we can help you locate a Hospice in your area.