What is Hospice?
Hospice is specialized care that offers comfort and support for patients with life-limiting illnesses. However, at Hope Springs Hospice, we believe that hospice is more of a philosophy than a type of care. Technically speaking, hospice is a Medicare benefit which is built to serve those individuals diagnosed with a life limiting illness. If that illness goes untreated, with no aggressive therapies, it will result in death. Though there are strict Medicare guidelines that need to be followed by the provider, the overall philosophy or essence of hospice is to promote quality of life, through palliative care (symptom relief), pain management, and other support services. It is holistic in that it addresses issues of body, mind, and soul.
In order to be eligible to elect hospice care under Medicare, a patient must be entitled to Part A and certified as being terminally ill by a physician and having a prognosis of 6 months or less if the disease runs its natural course.
The Steps of Hospice Care
There are two most common ways in which patients may come to hospice. Usually, a referral is made by the patient’s doctor, or other healthcare professional, once a terminal diagnosis is made (six months or less). Oftentimes, the doctor, a nurse, or a social worker will suggest a specific hospice for you to call. However, you are free to elect the hospice of your choosing.
Patients, or their loved ones may also contact a hospice directly when they believe hospice services are appropriate, or at any time during the disease process.
Once a referral is made, representatives from the hospice team, usually the director of patient care services, registered nurse, or social services will visit the patient and family within 48 hours.
For patients and families who self-refer, we will send out members of our hospice team, including a registered nurse (RN) to perform a clinical evaluation and gather patient history. The RN will then consult with our medical director or the patient’s personal physician to determine if hospice is appropriate.
The Tuck-in Nurse
Within 24 hours of admission, we send out a Tuck-In nurse who will make sure that the necessary supplies and medications have been provided (any medical equipment that is required will be ordered and sent to the patient as soon as possible).
Developing a Care Plan
Once the RN and our medical director approve the admission of the patient, we develop a plan of care that is appropriate. Once patients are admitted into our hospice, we ensure that a written plan of care is established. The hospice team collaborates with the attending physician, the patient or representative, and the primary caregiver to establish a plan of care which reflects the services and treatments that will be provided according to the patient’s needs. The plan can include treatment and medications to manage pain and other symptoms, the scope and frequency of services, durable medical equipment, home health aides, and social services.