Stages of Hospice Care
Hospice care is appropriate any time after a doctor has estimated that a patient has six months or less left to live, and both doctor and patient have decided to move from active curative treatment to a regimen more focussed on quality of life.
The prognosis might mean the person has several months of rich, full life in front of them or just a few days. Hospice care can help anyone on that spectrum with a full range of direct care, emotional and spiritual support, advice, and information. We can also help friends and family of patients through the periods before and after the end of life.
When hospice is called in well before the end of life, the stages of care can be broken down as below- but remember that every patient is different, with different needs and a different pathway.
STAGE 1: Planning for end of life care
We believe patients should be encouraged to make decisions regarding their care in advance wherever possible. This way they retain control over their lives for as long as possible, and friends and relatives are spared any doubt over what their preferences might be if the patient ever reaches the point where they can no longer decide for themselves.
Advance planning also helps clarify what help is likely to be needed and where that help will come from. We can help with insurance arrangements (although Center for Hospice Care never turns a patient away because of inability to pay) and do everything we can to reduce financial worries for patients and those around them.
Being able to have questions answered by knowledgeable professionals can also reduce worry and stress in other ways and help patients enjoy their remaining time as fully as possible.
STAGE 2: Spiritual and emotional care
Although we’ve labelled this a second stage, it should really runs in parallel with other care from day one to the very end of life. Center for Hospice Care employs chaplains, social workers, and counselors to help patients and their loved ones understand and accept death, and be ready for it when the time comes.
We also provide a range of courses involving everything from open group discussion to art therapy and pet therapy, all aimed at helping people through this difficult time.
STAGE 3: Help at home
Center for Hospice Care patients may need help with everyday tasks. Sometimes we can help make home a more comfortable, easier place for those with terminal illnesses, and both medical professionals and a team of trained volunteers are available to help with household chores and with care at home. Pain control can also be a priority.
Sometimes the broader hospice team is involved here as well–dieticians, massage therapists, and volunteers who provide companionship and friendship to hospice patients, especially those living alone.
Most often, patients have a strong desire to remain at home until the very end. We choose to support this desire as fully as possible, and help those who want to stay at home in familiar surroundings and close to loved ones do so.
STAGE 4: Inpatient care
Not all hospice patients need or want inpatient care, but for those who do, we can provide hospice services to those already in hospitals or nursing facilities. For those who do need an inpatient hospice place and can’t be cared for at home, we work with local hospitals and area nursing homes..
STAGE 5: Bereavement support
Bereavement support is available to those who have worked with us to care for a loved one and also to those who have lost someone under other circumstances. Hospice care does not end when the patient passed on. Center for Hospice Care provides bereavement counseling – in individual and group sessions – to anyone in the community who needs it, free of charge, even if their loved one was not in our hospice care. We also provide Expressive Arts bereavement programs to children and teens – again in individual or group sessions.
All bereavement support services are offered free of charge.