English poet Geoffrey Chaucer once said there is an end to everything, to good things as well. While none of us like to think about it, eventually, the journey must end and when it does, hospice care is there to make the last stretch as comfortable as possible.
The goal of hospice care is to make your last months, weeks, or days as comfortable as possible. If you have a terminal illness and all avenues have been exhausted, it’s time to enter hospice care. Instead of trying to cure the disease, treatment is now focused on relieving the symptoms and managing pain to improve your quality of life. Your final days can now be spent with loved ones to make as many good memories as possible.
Hospice care is tailored to each individual to cater to their specific needs, so anyone facing the last stage of a terminal illness, regardless of their age, can benefit from a good hospice care team.
When you enter hospice care, you’ll have the support of a well-trained and compassionate team of professionals that includes doctors, nurses, and specialists taking care of your physical health.
Counselors and social workers can provide emotional, social, and spiritual support and guidance to you and your family. Knowing what to expect at this stage of a loved one’s journey will be invaluable to those around them.
Additionally, caseworkers and trained volunteers will be available to provide practical assistance when needed.
The main caregiver to most hospice care patients is a close friend or relative, and some hospice care organisations also provide respite care to help fatigued caregivers who need time to rest and take care of themselves.
Where to receive care
Hospice care isn’t limited to a single care setting. It can be provided at home, in residential care, in frail care, or as an in-patient in a hospital setting. Most patients receive hospice care in the comfort and safety of their own homes. A member of the hospice team will visit regularly to coordinate your care, and there will always be someone available by phone in case of an emergency.
Occasionally, admittance to an in-patient care unit is necessary. If you’re experiencing severe symptoms or a medical crisis, it’s best to go to an in-patient facility to get proper treatment. Once the crisis is over and you’ve stabilised, you can return home to continue your care.
Hospice care is generally recommended for those in the last months or weeks of their life, however, there’s no time limit. Medical insurance might have specific guidelines with regard to coverage, but end-of-life care can start whenever you need it to start.
By joining a hospice program sooner rather than later, you and your family have time to build a relationship with the care team and have access to care and support services that could help relieve some of the stress of dealing with the final stage of a terminal illness.
Hospice care isn’t final – if you decide at any point to return to curative treatments, or there’s a spontaneous improvement, you can choose to leave hospice care and return at a later stage.
It’s important to discuss end-of-life care plans with family and friends. Knowing your wishes will make it easier for your loved ones to make decisions for your care based on your needs and preferences.
Enrolling in hospice care is not giving up the fight – it’s giving yourself and your loved ones the chance to reach the final goodbye with dignity and comfort.