Receiving the diagnosis of an incurable disease is difficult for everybody – for the patients and their families involved. As much as possible, most families would love to spend more time together. But once they have to deal with taking care of a family member diagnosed with a critical illness, the situation could become too difficult to handle. Sending the patients to hospice care homes allows some weight to be lifted off their shoulders. First, let’s dive deep into the definition of hospice care.
What Is Hospice Care?
Hospice care refers to the specialized treatment that a patient receives once diagnosed with a serious, incurable illness – such as cancer. Typically, these patients are in the final stages of their life. Hospice care is often compared to palliative care, another form of specialized care that also focuses on improving the quality of life. The main difference is that for the latter, patients can avail of care at any stage of illness.
There’s a typical misconception that sending a patient to hospice care means that you’ve lost hope. However, that isn’t correct. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Hospice care gives hope by increasing the quality of life of a patient diagnosed with an incurable illness. Hence, it does not center on treating patients curatively.
Hospice care is typically provided by a hospice care team in a patient’s home, hospital, or hospice care home. The team consists of doctors, nurses, social workers, and health aides. The first two tend to the patient’s physical needs while the latter two care for the mental and emotional well-being. These professionals are trained to provide the highest standards of hospice care to patients by ensuring their comfort.
What Is The Positive Impact of Hospice Care Homes on Families?
Now that we’ve tackled the definition of hospice care, we can now move on to discussing the positive impact of hospice care homes. The impact of hospice care homes on families cannot be understated. Let’s discuss why this is so.
One of the main goals of hospice care is to improve the quality of life by reducing any symptoms or physical pain that a patient may be experiencing. Hospice care providers have to work with the healthcare team to provide medical treatment in order to manage these symptoms. For instance, terminally ill patients are particularly vulnerable, making them susceptible to common infections. Hospice care allows for the treatment of the infection with antibiotic treatment.
Another form of physical support is physical therapy. Physical therapists are considered movement experts. And as such, they provide treatment plans that aim to ease symptoms, provide comfort, and maximize functional abilities. These plans also allow them to move freely. This is especially crucial in the final stages of life, as physical health significantly deteriorates. PTs identify any problems that a patient may have. For instance, getting out of bed. Then, they address this in such a way that is most comfortable to the patient.
Other forms of therapy include strengthening exercises which may require the use of equipment, if necessary. Physical therapists also provide services such as gait treatment, endurance training, and edema management to improve a patient’s quality of life. Besides conventional forms of treatment like physical therapy, hospice care homes are also open to providing alternative forms of therapy to patients such as massage or acupuncture, which can also boost the quality of life.
Hospice care isn’t limited to providing physical support. In fact, emotional support is just as important as physical support. Terminally ill patients may have developed mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety due to their conditions, which is why it’s crucial that patients have someone to talk to in hospice.
A sudden diagnosis, for example, can also make them harbor feelings of anger and even regret, as they have to face the fact that their time left is limited. All of these greatly reduce a patient’s quality of life, which is why emotional support should be a priority. Fortunately, hospice care homes have trained workers to deal with patients struggling with mental health issues. They listen to their stories and address any concerns they may have.
Most hospice care homes extend these emotional support services to families, which is an added benefit of sending a terminally ill patient to a hospice care home. Patients often do not struggle alone, with their family members and caregivers struggling sometimes just as much, if not even more. Family members may have difficulties individually, but family conflicts may also arise as a result of the whole situation. Tension may also develop between family members which may result in more serious issues.
That’s why the majority of hospice care homes are equipped with professionals to deal with these family problems – they can deal with them individually or collectively by providing individual attention and family discussions. This allows family members to express their feelings in a safe space and as a result, helps them work together to support their loved ones.
Emotional support doesn’t end when a patient succumbs to a terminal illness. In fact, it must continue with the emotional support for families as losing a loved one can be extremely devastating for them. Some hospice homes provide grief support services to promote healing from the loss of a loved one.
Bereavement support services allow family members to learn about the process of grief and to express their emotions. These services also allow loved ones to talk about the life of a family member and celebrate them. Hospice professionals tap into the family members’ strengths to navigate life during the loss of their loved ones. Counseling sessions can be done depending on the hospice care home – some would offer both individual and group sessions to get through this difficult time.
If there’s emotional support, there must be spiritual support. This type of support allows patients to connect with their faith community and trained counselors to listen to the spiritual concerns of patients and their family members. Moreover, this also includes providing the necessary resources for prayer and meditation. Spiritual support also injects positive thoughts and experiences into a patient’s mind, further increasing their quality of life.
Spiritual concerns also cover their questions about life – was their life a life worth living? Have they made a positive impact on the lives of others? These are the kinds of questions that often go through a patient’s mind, and providing spiritual support may ease some of their concerns.
Evidently, the word ‘spiritual’ means something different for everyone. For some, it may involve their religion. That doesn’t mean that patients must follow a certain religion to receive spiritual support. Something spiritual can also be a cultural tradition they follow. Either way, like all forms of support, spiritual support aims to provide patients and their families a sense of comfort in difficult times like these.
Personalized Care Plan
Another benefit of sending a patient to a hospice care home is the provision of a personalized care plan. A care home can tailor a treatment plan to a patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs – taking the burden away from the patient’s loved ones. This is done by a trained team of professionals that can provide skilled care that meets a patient’s needs.
These facilities also have professionals who are available 24/7 to deal with patient concerns around the clock. This leaves a patient’s family worry-free when it comes to patient care, giving them time to rest between visits.
The last stages of life can be extremely difficult for both patients and their families. For example, care homes allow patients and their families to decide if they would like to continue a particular medical treatment for the patient or focus on optimizing their levels of comfort.
Hospice care providers can sometimes assist in the documentation of living wills and durable power of attorney for healthcare. This ensures that any action a provider does sticks to the patient’s principles and beliefs.
When choosing the best form of care for a patient, financial concerns are often a top priority. The good part about choosing hospice care over hospital care is that it’s often less expensive. The reduction in out-of-pocket costs is a result of less money spent on medications and medical supplies. Not to mention, there are many options that provide financial aid like Medicare and private insurance. This eases the burden on the patients and their families.
Navigating through the final stages of a patient’s life can be distressing for both the patient and their families. Sending a patient to a hospice care home is an excellent choice as it provides plenty of benefits. Physical support is top-notch and other forms of support such as emotional and spiritual support aren’t neglected either. Additionally, care providers create personalized plans, assist in end-of-life care, and ease financial burdens.
Hospice care isn’t about curing a patient’s illness. Rather, it’s about making the final stages of their life comfortable for them and their families. So when a loved one receives a diagnosis of an incurable and terminal illness, do not hesitate to discuss the topic of sending them to hospice care.