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Tuesday, 21 August 2018 08:00

Hospice care – when is it time?

The reality is that many caregivers will eventually have to face the palliative care of a loved one as age or illness begins to take over. It’s never an easy conversation to have, but when is a move to hospice care the right decision? Most caregivers and doctors would recommend as early as possible after a loved one has been diagnosed as terminal.

But what is the difference between palliative care in the comfort of their own home versus that of hospice care? As an illness progresses, special needs are best handled by specialists who are able to perform these tasks without the attached emotion of a caregiver.

The bottom line is that hospice professionals specialise in end-of-life care and should ideally be called upon in the first stages of a terminal diagnosis. Not only to the benefit of the caregiver, but to the benefit and comfort of a loved one who may require more specialised treatment which becomes out-of-scope for many caregivers.

Criteria for hospice admission

In order for a loved one to be admitted to hospice care, they must first be examined by a physician. Generally, a physician will have to certify that a senior has a life expectancy of 6 months or less, depending on the course of their illness.

Another important criteria is that a senior must elect to forgo any form of curative treatment before being admitted to hospice care. This is must be because they no longer wish to receive this treatment or because it’s no longer effective in treating an illness. The treatment of symptoms of an illness is still permitted, commonly known as ‘’comfort care’’.

However, despite a physician’s diagnosis of life expectancy, the progress of many terminal illnesses is completely unpredictable. If a hospice stay extends past the diagnosed 6-month mark, a senior will still continue to receive services as long as a physician documents their eligibility for hospice care.

Beginning hospice care

There are no set rules and regulations on how a senior is referred to a particular hospice – anyone can refer your loved one, be it a friend, family member or physician. However, most seniors are referred by attending health care professionals. Even if you make a call to your local hospice, this can kick off admission proceedings.

Hospice management of pain and other symptoms

Early admission to hospice life is an effective means of managing the early stages of pain and discomfort when it comes to terminal illness. Waiting until pain and discomfort is severe is not recommended.

Hospice specialists are well-versed in offering pain relief with best forms of medication and creative ways in administering such medication. Many hospices work to find new therapies and techniques in offering the best comfort care possible.

Hospice care also provides care and comfort for caregivers in the form of respite as well as emotional support. Many hospices also provide facilities that caregivers and family members can use during their long hours of vigil at hospice centres.

Finally, one of the most important endeavours for any hospice is to ensure the transition from life to death is as comfortable as possible. Individual care plans are tailor-made to ease both physical and emotional pain for patients and family members.

Hospice centres go out of their way to ensure all spiritual needs are met, while they also help family members get their lives in order for a peaceful and stress-free transition.

Visit the HPCA in order to learn more about hospice life and palliative care.

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