Top Qualities to Look for in a Hospice and Palliative Care Program
Are you or someone you love dealing with a life-limiting illness? It is obviously a big emotional burden to carry and is only made worse because of the information overload you have to deal with, from having to learn more about the disease to juggling the numerous doctor’s appointments. When it is time for you to give some thought to hospice and palliative care, it can be quite a difficult decision to make, especially considering the myriad of choices at your disposal. Getting suggestions and recommendations is not that difficult, as you can reach out to your friends and family members, or you can even ask the doctor.
However, eventually, the final decision about hospice care will be made by you and it is not something that you can take lightly. In order to ensure you don’t make a mistake, you first need to have a clear understanding of hospice care. What exactly is it? You should note that hospice is not really a place and it is not something that’s only reserved for the elderly. Anyone who is dealing with a life-limiting illness can take advantage of hospice and its purpose is to provide comfort, care and hope to people.
Hospice care is appropriate for people who have a life expectancy of around six months or less, but other people can also use it if they want. You will not be kicked out if you do not die within six months. Thanks to hospice, patients as well as their families are able to spend more time together and get to expire a much higher quality of life. Every time you think of the word ‘hospice’, your mind will immediately jump to cancer patients, but the fact of the matter is that hospice care can actually be used to cater to patients suffering from a wide range of diagnoses.
Along with cancer, patients who are suffering from dementia, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, end-stages of chronic illnesses, such as heart, kidney or lung disease, neurological diseases and strokes, can also opt for hospice care. One of the myths that often surround hospice care is that you will get the same level of care from all hospices, but this is simply not true. There are some major differences that you will come across when you do a comparison.
Most of the hospices that you will come across will be Medicare certified, but how they are offering end-of-life-care can and will be different. Furthermore, there are also differences in the programs, services and levels of support that are provided to the patients and their families. Hence, when you are looking for a hospice and palliative care program, there are certain qualities you should look for because that can help you in making the right choice. What are these qualities? Let’s find out:
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Availability of full-time physicians on staff
It is true that hospice care requires working closely with doctors, but if you do a comparison of most hospices, you will come to know that not all of them have full-time physicians available on staff. Therefore, it is certainly a quality you should look for when you are looking for a hospice because having a full-time physician available can lead to better quality of care and services.
You shouldn’t forget to ask whether the clinical staff members, which include nurses and their assistants, have received specialized certification and training in hospice care. Their designation is obviously a commitment to providing a higher level of care you and your family members.
Different facets of support
Along with physical needs, you also need to assess whether the hospice possesses the resources to cater to the patient’s spiritual needs. The family and loved ones will also require support because it is not easy to face such a situation due to which grief care and counseling may also be included.
Varying levels of care
It is also important to remember that hospice care may not turn out to be the appropriate solution for a patient, depending on their condition. There are some patients who are dealing with serious illnesses, but they may not qualify for hospice care. In that situation, they can always go with palliative care for assistance in managing the pain and other symptoms. Palliative care can be started at any age and the stage of the illness is also irrelevant.
Strong customer reviews
One of the most important quality that you should look for when choosing a hospice care provider is their customer reviews. What kind of feedback have they received? They should have strong and positive feedback provided by family members of the patients for you to consider them as an option.
Ability to serve in different locations
A hospice should be able to provide you their services at the location of your choice, whether it is your home, a skilled nursing facility or a hospital. Apart from that, some also offer inpatient hospice care centers if it is not possible to manage the symptoms and patients at home. Most people do end up opting for hospice care at home because they want to spend more time with their family members.
Readily available assistance
A quality hospice should be capable of responding to any and all critical situations quickly. There are a lot of them that offer 24/7 care because they are aware that a critical situation may arise at any time and help may be required. They are also available on holidays and weekends, so when you are looking for options, you can opt for one that offers you this kind of flexibility.
It is important to remember that hospice care is certainly not about dying; it is about living. The only difference is that it is about living in a more comfortable environment where patients can continue to live their lives to the fullest and still be able to spend time with their family. This goal can be accomplished when you choose the best quality of hospice care.