When a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it can be hard to know where to begin. You want to ensure they receive the best care possible and are comfortable during the rest of their life, while also understanding what the options are for care and how everything will be covered financially. First things first, it’s important to define the criteria for who can receive hospice care.
In general, if a person meets the following three criteria they are able to receive hospice care:
- They are diagnosed with a terminal illness
- They are certified by a doctor that life expectancy is six months or less
- They consent to receiving comfort care instead of curative care
Some patients live longer than six months, but if their doctor certifies they still have a terminal illness, they can continue receiving hospice care. To get started with the hospice process, follow these guidelines:
1. Do your research
It’s never too early to inquire about hospice care. Research quality hospice care providers near you or providers that have a great reputation in your community. The Hospice of Southwest Ohio team is trained and prepared to provide information about our services including hospice care, palliative care, primary care and grief support, as well as the disease process. You can call us at (513) 216-9853.
2. Choose your hospice care provider
A good hospice provider ensures their patients receive expert medical, emotional and spiritual care as well as support for the families of patients. Anyone can refer a patient to hospice, but patients are typically referred by their primary care physician or a caseworker within a hospital setting. Medicare requires a physician’s certification for admittance.
Not all hospice providers are created equal. Be sure to ask important questions to those you’re considering such as:
- Are you Medicare certified?
- How often do team members visit with patients?
- Are there options for inpatient care? Respite care? Additional services beyond those required by law?
3. Meet your hospice team
It’s a good idea to determine if your chosen provider has a clinical staff certified or credentialed in hospice and palliative care. Also important is additional training and educational opportunities for both staff and family members. Our team includes specially trained physicians, nurses, social workers, home health aides, chaplains and volunteers. We meet with patients, families and caregivers to understand your needs and answer any questions you may have.
4. Enroll in hospice care
The admissions team will assess the patient’s physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs and begin working on a plan of care. A consent form must be signed prior to hospice enrollment, making the patient’s wishes to receive hospice care known in writing. It’s also a good idea to have an advance directive and end-of-life wishes documented as well. If a patient meets eligibility criteria and a hospice consent is signed, they will be admitted to hospice care.
5. Make the most of your days
A plan of care between a physician, patient, family and caregivers guides the best approach for each patient’s specific needs and goals. This can include a combination of expert medical care, symptom management, spiritual support, education or something else entirely such as specialty programs for veterans.
The word “hospice” tends to strike fear in hearts but it doesn’t mean that an individual is in the final days, weeks or even months of their life. Hospice focuses on keeping patients comfortable, rather than curing their illness, and celebrating life, because every day is a gift.