Hospice care consists of services designed to help the patient and the family to cope with a terminal illness. The goal of hospice is to provide comfort and support to a patient when no cure is available or treatment is no longer desired.
The services of hospice are provided through a team hospice care provider approach. The hospice team consists of professionals and volunteers. Core services provided include medical, nursing, counseling and social services. In addition, necessary medication and medical equipment are provided. The professional staff, such as the nurse and social worker, provides direct care to the patient and they teach the family to care for the patient between visits. Home health aide services provide the patient with bathing and household chores related to the patient. Volunteers are available to provide companionship to the patient and give the family members support and a sometimes much needed break. After the patient dies, the family is entitled to a year of bereavement counseling to cope with the grief of losing their loved one.
Caring for a hospice patient at home can be time consuming and stressful for family members. Many families don’t think that they can manage the care of their loved one, but most realize that they can, with the help of the hospice team. Family members are not expected to become medical experts, but they will need to give more time and attention to their loved one. Caring for a hospice patient can been seen as similar to caring for a newborn baby. Both require extra time and are stressful. In both situations, your entire focus is on the newborn or the hospice patient. One major difference between caring for the newborn and the hospice patient is that caring for a newborn is joyful while caring for the hospice patient brings sadness and grief when your loved one dies. Family members should not hesitate to speak with the hospice team about feelings of stress and sadness. Hospice services are for the patient and family members, and the hospice professionals are trained to deal with this and can provide support and ideas to help families to cope. Many family members, despite the exhaustion and stress of caring for a hospice patient, view their effort as one final gift they gave to their loved one.