Hospice 101 with Hospice of The Golden Isles and Dr. Rish
Months ago, former President Jimmy Carter entered hospice care at his home in Georgia. That began a nationwide conversation about hospice; many wonder if that's a typical hospice experience. While it is not surprising to medical professionals, it is understood that the timing of hospice and the care provided is often misunderstood.
"There are a lot of misconceptions about hospice care and the approach to hospice care where it's thought that you must be actively dying to use our service," says Dr. Lindsey Rish, Chief Medical Officer, Hospice of the Golden Isles. "These patients are not necessarily the ones who benefit the most from our service. A patient and family will benefit most when they are with us for weeks, even months."
Hospice care is specialized care that provides comfort, support, and dignity to individuals with advanced, life-limiting illnesses. The primary goal of hospice is to improve patients and their family's quality of life during the terminal illness's final stages. Here are some key points about hospice care:
1. Hospice care is based on the philosophy that every person has the right to die with dignity, free from pain, and surrounded by loved ones wherever they call home, including the patient's home, a hospice facility, or a nursing home.
2. Hospice care involves a multidisciplinary team collaborating to provide comprehensive care. This team typically includes doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, spiritual care providers, home health aides, and trained volunteers. They work together to address the patient's and their family's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
3. Hospice care is accessible to everyone through Medicare or Medicaid, private or no insurance, and no one is ever turned away regardless of their ability to pay. A person or caregiver can request hospice services by asking their primary doctor for a referral, calling hospice directly, or through hospitalization or a long-term facility. To be eligible for hospice care, a patient is typically diagnosed with a terminal illness and has a life expectancy of six months or less. This timeframe is not an exact prediction but serves as a guideline.
4. Hospice care offers a wide range of services to meet patients, and their family’s needs, including pain and symptom management, emotional and psychological support, spiritual care, assistance with daily activities, and respite care for family caregivers.
5. Hospice care supports the family through bereavement services after the patient's death. This is offered to help family members cope with grief and loss and includes counseling, support groups, and other resources.