The medical community makes strides each day to combat life-threatening diseases and illnesses. However, there are many circumstances that arise where patients are either unable to or unwilling to accept more extensive curative treatment options. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016, there were more than 4,300 hospice care agencies serving nearly 1.5 million patients in the United States. When a patient faces a life-ending illness, hospice care can provide a wide range of services to improve their quality of life while providing many different care and treatment options.
Palliative Care for Symptom Control
The Journal of Pain and Symptom Management reports that hospice care can extend life by an average of 29 days, but no matter the number of days left, hospice services can work to help make those moments as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Palliative care is one type of service typically offered through hospice. Rather than focusing on curing the patient, this type of care includes medicinal regiments and therapy to reduce pain and stress and improve the patient’s quality of life. Beyond treating pain, palliative care can address other distressing symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, problems sleeping, and loss of appetite. Although palliative care is also provided outside of hospice care, it can be helpful in controlling symptoms for those with life-limiting illnesses.
Skilled Nursing Services and Physician Participation
When hospice care is selected, a skilled nursing team works in conjunction with the hospice medical director as well as the patient’s primary physician to determine the best course of action for providing the best quality of life services available. Hospice patients are assigned a case-manager nurse who visits multiple times per week to administer medical care and monitor the patient’s health. Additionally, hospice services generally include on-call, 24/7 access to a skilled nursing team.
Home Health Aide Assistance
A home health aide will typically visit one to three times per week and provide home health care for those wish to remain in the comfort of their own homes during hospice treatment. Home health aides are trained to assist patients with a range of activities, including light housekeeping, personal care, mobility assistance, cleaning of medical equipment, and even massage care.
Medication and Medical Equipment
Beyond providing assisted living care and a dedicated and skilled team of medical professionals, hospice services also include the medication and medical equipment needed to help maintain the patient’s quality of life. The hospice works with a pharmacy team to ensure patients receive the best medicinal regimen available for their circumstances. Hospice care covers any medications associated with the hospice diagnosis, including those meant to reduce pain and other symptoms. Hospice care also provides medical equipment including hospital/accessible beds, wheelchairs, breathing machines, and smaller items like bandages.
Electing for hospice care can be a tough decision that brings with it a great deal of emotional stress and anxiety. Since the patient’s mental health is also a top priority when it comes to maintaining the best quality of life possible, hospice care often includes counseling services for both patients and their loved ones. These counseling services cover a range of therapeutic areas and can include spiritual therapy, bereavement counseling, family therapy, and more.
Hospice care can help the patient have the best quality of life under their specific circumstances through palliative care techniques, medication, and counseling. All of the services provided help patients combat their life-limiting illnesses with dignity in a comfortable home setting.