Hospice is a philosophy of care of the terminally ill. It treats the patient and family as one unit of care.
It focuses on the caring of a terminal patient, not the physical curing. Since not all curing takes place in the physical, it provides for support for the patient and family in mental and spiritual healing.
Hospice is a covered benefit of Medicare and it also often includes medical equipment, supplies and medications pertaining to a patients’ terminal diagnosis. Short term respite care for caregiver support, general inpatient care for symptom control and bereavement care for a year are also benefits of hospice.
Hospice care is a team approach. It is patient centered care offered by chaplains, certified nursing assistants, nurses, physicians, social workers and volunteers.
Chaplain: The chaplain offers non-denominational spiritual support for the patient and family. The chaplain may also work with the patient’s community spiritual leader to offer spiritual support. This is customized to each patient and family as they desire.
CNA: The Certified Nursing Assistant is the pillar of the hospice team. They carefully and tenderly care for the patient’s most personal needs by bathing, feeding, massaging and helping to transfer among many other cares.
Nurse: The nurse works with the patient’s primary care physician, the hospice medical director and the rest of the hospice team and other therapists to create a care plan specific to the needs of the patient. Wound care, ostomy and catheter care, medication and pain management, assessment and observation of the patient are many of the services of the hospice nurse. Teaching and training regarding the expected course of the disease and pain and symptom management also fall under the care of the nurse.
Physician: The physician works closely with the hospice team meeting every two weeks to discuss each patient and family personally.
Social Worker: The medical social worker is responsible for the psychosocial assessment and counseling services for the patient and the family. Social workers are trained on community resources and can help with applications or referrals. The social worker may work with the family on support systems, a bereavement assessment, and follow up for a year after the death of their loved one.
Volunteers: Volunteers are carefully trained by each hospice to provide a few hours of care, called respite care, for relief of the caregivers and family to step away for a while to refresh themselves.