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How Hospice Care Provides Benefit For Both the Patient and Family Members

October 9 was World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, a time to renew a commitment to improving the quality of life of those affected by life-limiting illnesses. It’s also a time to recognize how hospice care in San Francisco and elsewhere can provide a benefit not just to the patient but to the family members as well.

Hospice care focuses on the care, comfort, and quality of life of someone with a serious terminal illness who is approaching the end of their life, according to the National Institutes of Health. While the patient certainly needs support, the family members often need it too because they are going through their own crisis as they watch their loved one come to grips with end-of-life care.

Benefits of Hospice

Hospice benefits all members of a family as they are faced with a terminal diagnosis of a loved one. Hospice:

Provides a Comfortable Environment

The patient can remain in a familiar environment (usually their home) while still feeling safe, secure, and comfortable. The patient, the family members, and the hospice team (including the physician) are able to collaborate to come up with a care regimen that works for everyone.

Includes a Care Plan Addressing the Patient’s Illness

A big part of hospice is ensuring the patient is comfortable in their remaining days, weeks, or months. A comprehensive care plan is created that focuses on the management and alleviation of pain and discomfort. Collaborators of this plan include physicians, nurses, aides, therapists, and social workers who can help patients and their families navigate end-of-life care.

Provides Personalized Care and Support

Hospice professionals can address any needs of the patient even on a round-the-clock basis. This allows family caregivers to get breaks in between so they can attend to their own families, jobs, and needs. The emotional support provided is just as important as the physical support and often serves to ease any anxiety the family members may be feeling. By handling the details of medical care, hospice care allows everyone to be able to focus on the important things in life while their loved one is still alive.

Fulfills the Patient’s Last Wishes

Hospice care allows the patient’s last wishes to be fulfilled, such as wearing their favorite outfits or eating their favorite foods. This is a time of fulfillment for the patient and their family members that they wouldn’t necessarily get in a clinical, non-hospice environment.

Provides Family Guidance and Counseling

While the patient has their own emotional hurdles to tackle after a terminal illness diagnosis, the family members are often left feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of not only facing life without their loved one but trying to manage the last few weeks or months filled with appointments, hospice care team visits, funeral planning and more. Social workers and chaplains can provide guidance, as can the nurses assigned to the patient’s care. After the fact, grief and bereavement counseling are available for members of the family who need to work through their grief.

Helps Ease Financial Burdens

Hospital bills after a long battle with cancer, for instance, can be large and stressful for many families to face. Hospice allows patients to receive quality care at a more reasonable price. Plus, hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance.

Easing the Burden on Families

Hospice care provides many benefits to the dying, but also to the surviving family members. One study found that when a patient received hospice care, their bereaved spouses experienced an improvement in depression symptoms compared with those who did not. These findings build on previous research that shows the many benefits of hospice care to all involved.

Hospice patients are less likely to experience physical and emotional distress as they near the end of life, less likely to be hospitalized, less likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit, and less likely to be subjected to invasive procedures during the last weeks of life. In addition, family members of hospice patients say they are much more satisfied with their loved ones’ quality of care. It even has been shown to reduce depression among caregivers, thanks to the direct support they receive from the hospice care team.

Watching a loved one in pain as they near the end of life can be very distressing for family members, especially children of parents, and spouses. When the patient’s quality of life is improved through hospice and they are no longer in pain, it can be uplifting for the family members not to have to see their loved one suffer. Thus, they can spend more time focusing on the good times and the remaining days or weeks they have left together.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

Pathways offers comprehensive palliative care and hospice care programs that benefit both the patient and their family member. To learn more, please contact us at 888-978-1306.