Hospice focuses on improving the quality of life, providing comfort care and allowing the patient time to be with family members while being cared for in a respectful and dignified manner.
Approximately two thirds of patients who could benefit from hospice services never choose to receive hospice care. Too few people understand what hospice is and what it can provide for patients with a life-limiting illness.
Hospice providers offer patients and families the option to pursue comfort care and symptom management when other treatment modalities are no longer available. A team of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, hospice aides and volunteers work together to address the physical, social, emotional, spiritual and companionship needs of each patient and family.
Managing a patient’s pain and meeting his or her goals is the top priority of hospice providers. The team offers compassionate care to patients in their homes or in a facility. Services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance companies, so patients are relieved to know that they won’t have additional financial responsibilities when they elect to receive hospice.
A common misconception is that hospice hastens death. The fact is that hospice does not hasten or delay the end of life nor does it mean that anyone is giving up on the patient. Hospice focuses on improving the quality of life, providing comfort care and allowing the patient time to be with family members while being cared for in a respectful and dignified manner.
When patients and families express interest in learning more about hospice, they may encounter health care professionals who might be “uncomfortable discussing the subject,” according to Glenn Richmond, RN, administrator at Amedisys, the largest hospice provider in the Charleston area.
“Our hospice team is willing and ready to provide information, education and emotional support so that patients and families can make an informed decision about the care options available to them,” Richmond said. “It benefits the patient to be referred sooner rather than later so they can experience the full benefit of hospice services.”
When pain and symptoms are effectively managed, patients feel better and may live longer. Some patients may improve enough to be discharged from hospice and return to home health care.
“If hospice is needed in the future, they are always welcome to return to our care,” Richmond said.
Hospice providers also educate family members on how to care for the patient, offer physical therapy when needed, provide short-term hospitalization if the symptoms cannot be managed at home or if respite care is needed. They also provide bereavement support and follow-up to surviving family members and caregivers to assist them through the grief process.
“We have staff available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist our patients with any issues or concerns,” Richmond said. “So regardless of what time the patient needs support or assistance, we are just a phone call away.”
Amedisys Hospice has seven care centers throughout South Carolina, in Charleston, Walterboro, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Sumter, Florence and Greenville.