By more effectively dealing with pain and symptoms, hospice care seeks to improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients. While hospice care does not aim to cure the illness, as its name implies it is intended to care for the patient. The same type of care you receive in the hospital, hospice is designed to provide the same kind of care at home.
The following are a few reasons why one may want to consider hospice care:
- As a result of the illness having progressed to a terminal stage, your physician is giving you a prognosis of six months or less
- Your illness does not appear to be improving or slowing down regardless of treatment
- If you refuse to receive treatments because they are difficult and painful
- It is your own preference to stay your own house as the illness has caused multiple hospitalizations
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization released a report that showed 53.8% of all Medicare recipients received hospice care for a period of 30 days or less in 2018. In fact, 27.9% of hospice beneficiaries received care only for seven days or less, which is considered a too short time for hospice care to be beneficial.
According to hospice experts, a patient should undergo hospice care for at least 90 days before they can expect to benefit from it. Generally, hospice care is intended to support patients whose prognosis is 6 months or less. When receiving hospice care for such a short period of time, it can result in unnecessary suffering and a lower level of satisfaction.
There is a tendency that receiving hospice care for such a short time period may contribute to the perception that hospice causes death to happen faster, which is not true. The fact is that many patients delay getting hospice care until they are in a rapid decline or in a period of crisis.
Among the barriers for patients to receive hospice at an earlier stage include inaccurate prognosis, disagreement with hospice philosophy, oncologists and patients making decisions to pursue further treatment, and lack of knowledge with regard to hospice.
In order to prevent too many people from seeking hospice services too late, it is important that information and educational materials are distributed to families and communities. In addition, it is important for patients to be proactive and ask their doctors for information as early as possible in the disease process.
There are many benefits to hospice care. Hospice care strives to manage symptoms and pain, provide counseling when needed, and provide education to comfort patients and families when they are in need of comfort. There is a recognition among the patient, family, and caregivers that support from the end of life is vital to their comfort.
Overall, hospice is intended to provide comfort at the end of life and to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support to its patients and family. Thousands of people are missing out on the benefits that hospice care can offer them when they begin their journey. With this in mind, the hospice community strives to change this trend. After all, families say this all too often, "We wish we had known about hospice care sooner".