National Hospice & Palliative Care Month

National Hospice & Palliative Care Month

  1. What Is Hospice Care?
  2. How Long Has Hospice Care Been Practiced In Healthcare?
  3. Who’s Involved in Hospice Care?
  4. What Does The Care Team Do?
  5. The Difference Between Hospice And Palliative Care
  6. What Does The Hospice Six-Month Requirement Mean?
  7. National Hospice & Palliative Care Month
  8. Final Thought

 

As many of us tend to associate November with Thanksgiving and the time of expressing thankfulness, we should also note that this month is also known for National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. When it comes to hospice care, it is essential for end-of-life care within healthcare. November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and hospices across the country are reaching out to raise awareness about the highest quality care for all people coping with life-limiting illnesses.

WHAT IS HOSPICE CARE?

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Hospice consists of a medically directed, interdisciplinary team-managed program of services that focuses on the patient and their family. Hospice is the gold standard method of caring for people at the stage of a terminal illness when no further curative or life-prolonging therapy is available or wished to be pursued by a patient or family member. Hospice services can assist the family (as well as family caregivers) in making the patient as comfortable as possible by optimizing pain and symptom management and other forms of physical and/or spiritual suffering as needed in a home or home-like setting.

HOW LONG HAS HOSPICE CARE BEEN PRACTICED IN HEALTHCARE?

The word “hospice” derives from the Latin word hospes, which means both “guest” and “host.” Since the 11th century, the concept of hospice was adopted by the Roman Catholic tradition to refer to a place of hospitality for the sick and dying as well as for travelers and pilgrims. The first of such hospices are believed to have been established during the Crusades. Hospices were widespread in the Middle Ages but diminished as religious orders became dispersed.

In 1974, Florence Wald, two pediatricians, and a chaplain founded the first hospice in the US—Connecticut Hospice in Branford, CT. It wasn’t until 1986, the Medicare Hospice Benefit, a federal funds program, was enacted. This allowed states to offer the option to include hospice in their Medicaid programs. Hospice care was made available to terminally ill nursing home residents as well. For the next three decades, legislation was passed, funding was improved, and Medicare reimbursement rates were increased, resulting in the proliferation of hospice care providers.

WHO’S IS INVOLVED IN HOSPICE CARE?

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A hospice care team typically includes:

  • Primary care doctor, hospice doctor or medical director
  • Nurses
  • Home health aides
  • Spiritual counselors
  • Social workers
  • Pharmacists
  • Volunteers
  • Other professionals such as speech, physical and occupational therapists
  • Bereavement counselors.

WHAT DOES THE CARE TEAM DO?

Among its major responsibilities, the interdisciplinary hospice team:

  • Manages the patient’s pain and other non-pain symptoms.
  • Provides emotional support.
  • Provides needed medications, medical supplies and equipment.
  • Coaches family caretakers on how to care for their loved ones.
  • Provides family caregivers with needed time away from caregiver’s responsibilities (respite time).
  • Delivers special services like speech and physical therapy when needed.
  • Provides short-term inpatient care when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home.
  • Provides grief support to surviving loved ones and friends. Support can include conversations with the person and family members, teaching caregiving skills, prayer and phone calls to loved ones, including family members who live at a distance and companionship and help from volunteers.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOSPICE AND PALLIATIVE CARE

Some similarities and differences between palliative care and hospice care are:

QuestionHospice CarePalliative Care
Who can be treated? Anyone with a serious illness who doctors think has only a short time to live, often less than 6 months Anyone with a serious illness
Will my symptoms be relieved? Yes, as much as possible Yes, as much as possible
Can I continue to receive treatments to cure my illness? No, only symptom relief will be provided Yes, if you wish
Will Medicare pay? Yes, it pays for some hospice charges It depends on your benefits and treatment plan
Does private insurance pay? It depends on the plan It depends on the plan
How long will I be cared for? As long as you meet the hospice's criteria of an illness with a life expectancy of months, not years This depends on what care you need and your insurance plan
Where will I receive this care?
  • Home
  • Assisted living facility
  • Nursing home
  • Hospice facility
  • Hospital
  • Home
  • Assisted living facility
  • Nursing home
  • Hospital

WHAT DOES THE HOSPICE SIX-MONTH REQUIREMENT MEAN?

In the United States, people enrolled in Medicare can receive hospice care if their health care provider thinks they have less than six months to live. Doctors have a hard time predicting how long an older, sick person will live. Health often declines slowly, and some people might need a lot of help with daily living for more than six months before they die. The person should talk with their doctor if they think a hospice program might be helpful. If he or she agrees, but thinks it is too soon for Medicare to cover the services, then the person can investigate how to pay for the services that are needed.

What happens if someone under hospice care lives longer than six months? If the doctor continues to certify that that person is still close to dying, Medicare can continue to pay for hospice services. It is also possible to leave hospice care for a while and then later return if the health care provider still believes that the patient has less than six months to live.

NATIONAL HOSPICE & PALLIATIVE CARE MONTH

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During the month of November, the home care and hospice community honors the millions of nurses, home care aides, therapists, and social workers who make a remarkable difference for the patients and families they serve. These heroic caregivers play a central role in our health care system and in homes across the nation. To recognize their efforts, we call upon all Americans to commemorate the power of caring, both at the home and in their local communities, and ask them to join with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) by celebrating November as Home Care and Hospice Month.

In addition, Home Care Aide Week takes place the second full week of the month, November 12-18, 2022. Join us in honoring these compassionate, tireless workers who play an invaluable role for their clients as caregivers, companions, and friends. This year’s theme is “Meeting You Where You Are”.

FINAL THOUGHT

When someone you love is facing a life-limiting illness, you and your family want to do whatever you can to ensure they get the very best care. If you are considering hospice care for oneself or a loved one, understanding a potential provider’s capabilities, history, and philosophy will enable a more confident care decision. To find out about hospice programs, talk to doctors, nurses, social workers or counselors. You can also contact the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization at 800-658-8898. They can offer an online provider directory. What are your thoughts on hospice and palliative care? Leave us a comment down below!

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