Three Topics for Montanans to Consider about Hospice Care Image

Hospice provides quality compassionate care to those of us with a life-limiting illness. If you or your loved one is terminally ill, you may have already heard about the expert medical care that Hospice provides. But did you know that Hospice also provides pain management as well as emotional and spiritual support tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes?

Because hospice is for caring not curing, patients can choose to receive treatment wherever they’re most comfortable. In most cases, patients prefer to receive care in their own homes or the homes of their friends or family. However, patients can choose to receive hospice care in assisted living centers, nursing homes, hospitals, or at residential facilities.

It’s also important to remember that hospice services are available to any terminally ill patient regardless of illness, age, religion, or race and is widely covered. In fact, in Montana, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations cover hospice care.

Cared For By A Team
Once treatment is qualified by a physician, a hospice team develops a care plan that meets the individual needs of the patient. Plans include specific steps to manage pain and control symptoms. A team usually consists of 1) the patient’s physician, 2) hospice physician/ nurse practitioner, 3) nurses, 4) hospice certified nurses’ aides, 5) social workers, 6) bereavement counselors, 7) clergy or other spiritual counselors, 8) trained volunteers, 9) speech, physical, and occupational therapists, 10) Pharmacist, and 11) Music thanatology, if needed.

Many Services Provided
The interdisciplinary hospice team assists with:

  • Managing the patient’s pain and symptoms;
  • Supporting the patient’s emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual aspects of dying;
  • Providing needed medications, medical supplies, and equipment;
  • Family coaching on how to care for the patient;
  • Delivering additional services like speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational when needed;
  • Making short-term inpatient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or the caregiver needs respite time; and
  • Providing bereavement support and counseling to surviving family and friends for up to a year.

Qualifying for Hospice
Every patient who receives hospice treatment must be qualified by a physician. Usually, this means there is a life expectancy of six months or less. Since some physicians may hesitate to broach the subject of hospice care, you may need to bring it up yourself. Ask whether hospice care would be right for you and which services you feel will be most helpful to ease the end-of-life process.

Pick a hospice service that helps you feel at ease. You are going to have to ask and answer some extremely difficult questions. Death is a tough subject to discuss. Clear, caring communication is essential.

A quality hospice program will give you all the time and personal attention you need to ease your mind.

Part of picking hospice involves having the right feeling. If the hospice staff is personable and makes you feel comfortable, that’s a good sign.

To contact Consumer Direct Care Network Hospice please call 406.541.1800.