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Preparing Your Heart for Hospice

If you have a  family member who  is facing a life-limiting illness, choosing hospice can difficult decision. When you choose comfort over pursuing a cure, you’re not giving up. You’re choosing a quality of life that will allow your loved one to have a dignified end-of-life experience with meaningful time to spend with family and friends.

Your family member may experience all four levels of care over the course of their time in hospice depending on their individual needs, but each provider should include the following levels:

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Routine Home Care

Routine home care is when members of the hospice team visit the patient at home to help manage symptoms and make sure they are as comfortable as possible. The team also educates the family on how to best care for their loved one. This care plan also includes medications, equipment and treatments related to the individual’s needs.

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Continuous Care

When hospice team members work in shifts of up to 24 hours a day, it’s known as continuous care. This is often an alternative to admitting a patient to the hospital and usually happens when they are having acute symptoms that can’t be managed by the family members. All hospice services that receive funding from Medicare are required to offer continuous care.

wife with husband in hospital bed

General Inpatient Care

Inpatient care occurs when your loved one’s needs can no longer be managed at home. This is often provided in a hospital, skilled nursing community or freestanding hospice center where patients can receive personalized, round-the-clock care.

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Respite Care

Taking care of a loved one in their final stage of life can take an emotional toll on caregivers. Rather than waiting until exhaustion leads to depression and fatigue, respite care gives you an opportunity to have up to five consecutive days and nights of relief from caregiving duties. During that time, your family member will receive the help they need from hospice team members in a qualified care center.

Providing Quality Care for the Whole Person

Comfort and support are the top priorities for hospice care, but it shouldn’t stop there. No matter where your loved one is on their journey, they still deserve to enjoy the highest quality of life possible. That’s why we provide everything from on-call support and skilled care to spiritual and emotional counseling and music therapy.

By treating the whole person physically, emotionally and spirtually, our holistic care approach focuses on your loved one’s quality of life. That means you can spend less time worrying and more time cherishing meaningful time together.

Medical Care

Skilled medical care is paramount to the hospice experience and should be one of your hospice provider’s main priorities. This includes focusing on pain relief and providing treatments that allow your loved one to have as much comfort as possible.

Social Connection

We all crave social connection, especially in difficult times, and isolation is known to lead to depression and anxiety. That’s why we provide volunteers, social workers and pastoral care to surround you and your family member with the support you need.

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Emotional Care

From counseling to sympathy, hospice team members are trained on helping you and your loved ones as you encounter the emotions that come with being on the hospice journey.

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Spiritual Support

Our hospice team includes pastoral care and counselors who can help you find the peace you need as you face the loss of your loved one. They are also available to provide care and comfort to your family member.

Get Answers to Your Questions

Hospice care is usually given to those in the final stages of a disease, which generally means they have a life expectancy of six months or less. There are occasions when the disease lasts longer than six months, which means your loved one could be on hospice care for longer than anticipated.

Many choose hospice after they decide they are no longer going to pursue curative care. While this care service often treats the whole person through pain management and emotional, spiritual and social support, it’s important to understand that hospice rarely includes medical treatment designed to cure the disease.

Hospice care is not tied to one specific location. There are some freestanding hospice centers, and it can sometimes be provided in skilled nursing centers, independent living communities, assisted living communities and hospitals. But more often than not, hospice care is generally provided in the comfort of your home.

The frequency of visits and level of care depend on your loved one’s condition and individual needs. But you can rest easy knowing members of the hospice staff are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will make regular visits to assess your family member and provide the care and comfort they need. They will also be available to answer your questions and provide support any time of the day or night, including when there is a medical emergency.

In most cases, Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance plans cover these four types of hospice care: routine home care, general inpatient, continuous home care, and respite care. But it’s always a good idea to check with your provider and confirm this information.

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Choosing the Right Provider For You

The law requires every hospice program to provide the same basic care services to patients and their family members. While that can give you peace of mind knowing your loved one will have the care and support they need, it can also make it a little more difficult to discern which hospice provider will be the best fit for your family. 

To make the decision process a little easier, here are a few questions to ask as you begin looking for a professional, compassion hospice care provider:

Industry expertise and track record
How long has the hospice provider been in business? Did other patients and family members have a good experience with this provider? 

Highly-trained staff members
What sort of training and certifications do the staff members have? Do they assign an interdisciplinary team to each patient in their care (examples include a nurse, social worker, bereavement specialist, chaplain and volunteer)? Do they help the family members better understand how they can care for their loved one during this time?

A wide range of care options
Does the provider create a personalized care plan for each patient? Do they offer hospice care at home, continuous care up to 24 hours per day, inpatient hospice care when symptoms can no longer be managed from home, and respite care for caregivers? Do they bring all the medical equipment, medications and supplies needed for patients at no additional charge?

Availability and ability to move quickly
How quickly can you receive hospice care? Does this provider accept patients after hours, on weekends and on holidays? Are hospice team members available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer your questions or respond during an emergency or crisis? Will a staff member stay with you and your loved one in the final moments?

Supportive services
Will hospice team staff train the family members on how to use medical equipment at home? Does the program provide services like music or pet therapy? What can volunteers do, how are they trained, and how often will they visit? After your family member passes away, how long will you continue receiving bereavement services?

Our hospice team at Brookdale has spent years helping patients and their family members through these difficult times. Our skilled and compassionate team can provide your loved one with the comfort and support they need so you can make the most of these final days together as a family.

Learn more about the Brookdale care experience.

man in wheelchair with granddaughter and caregiver
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Find a Brookdale Hospice Provider

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