Hospice Fear and Misconceptions

Nearly one million Americans were served by hospice last year. Yet there are many myths about hospice that keep people from getting this compassionate care when they need it most.
Hospice is not just about those who are dying; it’s a comprehensive care that focuses on living as fully as possible, surrounded by loved ones, up until the end of life. The sooner hospice is involved, the better. Hospice offers many wonderful services to the patient and their family.
Hospice care is done by a team. Care plans are developed to control pain and symptoms; help with personal hygiene; counseling for the entire family; spiritual support; volunteer services, like sitting with patients so family can run errands; and bereavement programs after death. Here are a few misconceptions people have:
Patient must be close to death in order to be admitted.
A physician can recommend hospice care for a patient if the physician believes that the patient “probably” has six months or fewer to live. Hospice care can actually increase quantity and quality of life because of the attention to the well-being of the whole person-physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Patients can live for years and still qualify for hospice!
Hospice is only available in the home setting.
Hospice services can be provided to patients in nursing homes, long term care and hospice house facilities. Having the hospice team visit the patient at a nursing home is an extra benefit for the patient. Sometimes home hospice patients temporarily go to a residential hospice to give caregivers a needed break or to get symptoms under better control.

Primary physicians are no longer involved in care.
Hospice encourages the primary physician to be part of the interdisciplinary team. Hospice supplements rather than replaces the physician. Hospice works with physicians to support patient needs.

Hospice only sees patients with a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Hospice is appropriate for any terminal diagnoses including cancer, AIDS, ALS, heart disease, respiratory and lung disease, heart disease and dementia.

Editor’s note:  This article was submitted by Tarrah Hildreth at Sangre de Cristo Hospice.  She can be reached at. 719-542-0032.