When a loved one is facing a tough sickness/illness, the most important choice to be made is the choice of hospice care provider. The guidelines of Medicare set up standards that all of the hospice care providers have to meet, and this helps protect you while you’re determining your decision. The guidelines, however, do not encompass everything, and it’s vital to feel you are in the process of making the correct choice and choosing the right hospice provider. Below are some of the important factors to think about while you’re making the decision:
The Reputation of the Hospice Provider
The majority of families begin the search for hospice care providers at the doctor’s office. They may get a list of the providers (or one particular provider that they recommend). Other times, internet search results give info on area providers that are offering the hospice care. These are both great way to begin the search, though the names/locations of the agencies only give a certain amount of information. The ultimate choice is one you need to make.
A vital part of making the decision is realizing that the reputation of the hospice care provider is key. Here are a few vital questions for you to ask:
- How many years have they been around?
- What do other patients and their families say in their review and testimonial?
- Is their website info up-to-date for recent times?
- Do they make references from prior patients available if asked for?
- Are you able to view the surveys on satisfaction from other patients?
- Is the agency recommended by doctors?
Depending on the level of honesty and willingness to be open by each organization, you will have a good idea which organizations are reputable and worth looking into.
A hospice care provider that has accreditation will take additional steps to show you they are dedicated to giving the absolute highest care possible in addition to keeping a standard of communication and safety. This gives you assurance in regards to the care your loved one will get while there. Hospice care agencies need to adhere to certain daily operation standards in order to be accredited by The Joint Commission, which is the biggest accrediting body of hospice care providers. Every 18 to 36 months, there is a survey organizations fill out to ensure that quality standards are being met, and training is made available for organizations to stay on top of this requirement and be prepared.
Individualized Plans of Care
The patients of the hospice are people that have individual goals and needs based on a variety of factors. It’s the optimal approach to giving the highest-quality care and a wonderful hospice experience is created by making an individualized plan of care for every patient.
This plan of care is the outline for the daily services that are received. It also sets up the collaborating with the professionals that satisfy the daily emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of your loved one. The plan of care includes:
- Daily routine(s)
- Individual needs
- Needs of the Loved One’s Family
There is an introductory assessment necessary to figure out the needs and determine the plan of care. The assessment is most effective if it includes medical professionals providing great care, family and also you. When created, this document is regularly reviewed and changed as necessary, to make sure that the care remains what is necessary and beneficial, as well as in line with your goals and challenges.
Who Provides the Care?
The hospice will have professionals that are from a variety of different backgrounds, working together to look after your emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. Usually, the team has a hospice doctor, social workers, nurses, spiritual practitioners, and volunteers who are well-trained.
The guidelines of Medicare require that all of the hospice care teammates have nurses, though there are also some differences in how the agencies fill their staff and manage patient needs. One vital thing you need to know, in your capacity as a patient, is to know the differences between RNs (registered nurses) and LPNs (licensed practical nurses). Registered nurses have a 2-year or 3-year diploma (at least). They generally have better leadership training and have stronger experience suited for crises that may come up. They also have strong training in effective pain management and hospice care.
Management of Medication
The medication is a vital part of the hospice care treatment plan, helping the patients stay comfortable and pain-free as end-of-life approaches. The medications can include oxycodone, morphine, hydromorphone, and methadone, for the patients in the hospice care. Proper dosage is determined via the orders of doctors; these can differ with some of the providers going by a slower-paced schedule of dosage, while others tend to follow a steadier regimen of dosage.
Patients usually choose to do this after talking with their physician and determine that the curing treatment options are no longer desirable because they either make things worse, or have no effect at all.
Differences among the hospice providers is seen insofar as how they handle the maintenance medications prescribed to patients. The prescription drugs that are utilized for blood pressure management, diabetes, cholesterol, and other medical issues are occasionally discontinued when patients start hospice care. Other times, maintenance medications continue being used, assisting patients in feeling better day by day. Axist Hospice usually does this approach.
As with every decision you make regarding hospice care, the goals and preferences you have are the most vital things to consider regarding maintenance medications/pain management. The hospice care provider that you go with should be on board with your goals and beliefs, and follow your wishes in regards to medications.
Emergency Treatment Care and Timing
There are benefits to beginning hospice care early on; these include having a better quality of life, alleviating the stress you and loved ones may be experiencing for lengthy periods of time. This is the reason it’s vital to figure out a provider that can give you an assessment right away to begin services as soon as possible. This may mean beginning on a weekend and/or a holiday, so you’ll have to work with your provider to determine the best day to start.
Emergency care is also vital to make sure the professionals are around should your needs change at all, or if you and/or your family have questions or issues that need to be looked into. Crisis care remains a valuable choice as well, especially as the patients near end-of-life. Axist Hospice will provide crisis care (continuous hospice care nursing support to the patient at their bedside for extended periods of time, including 24/7). Your needs and symptoms, as well as the recommendations of the medical professionals on your team, will determine whether you need crisis care and what that will entail for you.
The last life stage is very stressful and uncertain; learning what options you have can help greatly to change the way you react and think about your situation. Gather up information and ask questions. More importantly, understand you have a say in the decisions about your providers in hospice care. Axist Homecare is around to answer questions if you have any; please contact Axist to set up a consultation!