Hospice is a philosophy and a program of care which includes comprehensive and compassionate expert care for patients who can no longer benefit from aggressive, curative treatments. We affirm life but recognize that death is a normal part of the life continuum. Hospice care does not hasten death nor prolong life. Instead, we strive to enhance the quality of life for those who are facing a life-limiting illness. We offer a comprehensive set of services needed to manage all of a person’s symptoms and complications, including medical, spiritual and emotional support for patients and their families. Our goal is to allow end-of-life patients to live each day to the fullest with dignity and in comfort.
The combined approach of caring for the physical and emotional well-being of each patient is what makes hospice so special. As many studies have indicated, most patients who are in the end-of-life stages would prefer to be home in familiar surroundings with the opportunity to spend time with loved ones and engage in the activities they enjoy. Hospice makes this possible by providing in-home care and a variety of support services for patients and their families.
Our team of hospice professionals, medical staff, in-home certified nursing assistants, counselors and clergy offers the expertise necessary to meet the physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs of our patients. In addition to pain and symptom management, hospice provides the skills needed to deal with the emotional pain as well. As a result, patients are able to enjoy a better quality of life and are better equipped to make the difficult choices necessary during this time. This peace of mind also makes it easier for patients to convey their wishes to their loved ones, thus relieving them of the strain of having to make those decisions on their own.
Although the end-of-life stage is never an easy time, our personalized services and caring environment are tailored to meet the individual needs of each patient. We strive to enhance the quality of life, while providing the patient and their family the opportunity to strengthen relationships and open lines of communication that may have previously been closed off. Additionally, we recognize that grieving over a loss is an important step in the healing process and so we offer follow-up grief support to each family member. Our Grief Support Group meets every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at the hospice office. It is free and open to anyone. We also offer Camp Hope for children ages 5 to 17.
No. That is one of the most common misconceptions about today’s hospice care. Although we do care for patients with end-stage cancer, we also have the expertise and ability to care for those who are suffering from a variety of other illnesses as well. These include, but are not limited to lung disease, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, dementia, alzheimer’s, ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”), Parkinson’s disease, AIDS, severe birth defects, and other end-stage illnesses.
A patient may receive care any time after the diagnosis of a life limiting illness. Normally this is for six months, however, services can be provided longer as long as the patient meets the hospice care criteria.
Hospice is designed for patients who have reached a point in their illness when curative treatment is no longer beneficial. This is when the focus of care should begin to shift from curative to comfort care. However, when to make that shift is an intensely personal decision. In these situations, a patient should discuss all health care options, including hospice care, with their doctor and family.
Unfortunately, many people are under the mistaken impression that hospice care is not available to patients until they are in the final days of their life. This is not the case. Although hospice patients still receive expert medical treatment, the goal is not to cure, but to improve the quality of life — physically, emotionally and spiritually. For this reason, the earlier a patient elects to receive hospice care, the more that can be done. The additional benefit of hospice care is the family support services we offer. Our hospice team is available to patients and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions or to address concerns.
Choosing hospice does not mean you are giving up. It is simply a means of hope, support, comfort and dignity for patients and their families during one of the most difficult times of their lives. At times, however, a terminally ill patient’s terminal disease process improves or may enter the remission stage. If this were to occur, your doctor may feel that you are no longer medically eligible for hospice. Also, as a hospice patient you always have the right to decline these services for any reason without penalty, if you feel it’s not right for you or decide to actively pursue curative treatment again. If you choose to stop hospice services or your condition improves, you will be discharged from the program; however, you can always qualify for hospice again at a later date.