Hospice Foundation of America

Question: My mom has a very serious illness and we think we’ll be using hospice soon. What services are included? – Sally, Reno, NV

Answer: Before providing care, a hospice clinician, the patient’s personal physician(s), and the hospice physician confer on the patient’s disease history, current physical systems, and life expectancy.

A hospice representative meets with the patient and family to discuss the hospice philosophy of care, services available, pain and comfort levels, expectations, advanced directives, the support system available, financial and insurance resources, medications, and equipment needs. Patients are asked to sign an informed consent for care. From the information gathered, a “plan of care” is developed. As the patient’s condition changes, this plan is regularly reviewed and revised.

The plan of care provides the hospice staff, the patient, and the family with details about what services and support visits (nurse, social worker, aide, counselor, spiritual care, and volunteer) to expect, in addition to what medications, therapies, supplies, and equipment will be used. It also outlines what training the patient and family can expect and how they will participate in the care.

Caregivers are generally asked to provide a safe, comfortable environment, help with feeding, bathing, turning, and giving medications. Caregivers are also advised to alert the hospice of any changes in the patient’s condition.

Additionally, the plan of care includes bereavement service needs, as hospice also provides support for caregivers following the patient’s death.

Copyright 2008 Hospice Foundation of America. All Rights Reserved.

Top Tip

Realize that you do not have to struggle alone. We all can share our grief with family and friends. Seek help from clergy or counselors. Hospices and funeral homes may be able to suggest mutual support groups. And librarians and bookstores can recommend books that can assist as you grieve.

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