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Hospice Misconceptions

Although hospice and death are inextricably linked in many people’s minds, hospice experts insist that it is life — not death — on which their work centers. Specifically, the goal of hospice is to improve a patient’s quality of life, even though, and especially when, that life is nearing its end.

Hospice care has been available in the United States for nearly half a century, yet there are still many misconceptions about what it entails.

Top Misconceptions

Entering hospice is a death sentence.

It is true that hospice care becomes available when a patient’s illness has been deemed terminal — when it no longer responds to treatment, or when both the medical team and patient decide not to attempt further curative treatments.

But experts say the act of choosing hospice care is, in fact, life-affirming. In addition to being made as comfortable and pain-free as possible, a hospice patient receives support that ensures the best possible quality of life for the remainder his or her life.

Hospice is just nursing care.

Palliative care — the treatment of symptoms causing discomfort or distress, such as shortness of breath, pain, appetite loss — is just one aspect of hospice care. Hospice uses a multidisciplinary approach to provide a wide range of services. Medical directors, nursing staff, social workers, spiritual counselors, dieticians, home health aides, therapists and bereavement counselors work with patients and their families.

You have to leave your home.

Hospice care can be provided in a patient’s home or in the home of a family member or friend.

“Hospice is not a place; it is a philosophy of care,” said Anne Moore, a nurse practitioner at The Jewish Home Center for Palliative Medicine.

When in-home care is not an option, hospice care can take place at a facility. Some hospices have their own facility, while others will serve patients in assisted living or nursing facilities. In the Los Angeles area, for example, Sierra Hospice has an inpatient campus with 20 beds, according to Moore.

Hospice provides 24/7 care.

Although hospices do not provide around-the-clock care, they do provide on-call support 24 hours a day. For any question, no matter how big or small, patients or their families can call a hospice at any time.

Top 5 Fears

Hospice workers take over completely and your family members are no longer allowed to take care of you.

On the contrary, families still can provide as much care as desired. In addition, input from family members is an important component of a patient’s care plan. The multidisciplinary team meets with the patient and/or family members at regular intervals.

Hospice personnel are there to provide information and support in decision-making and in the care of the patient because one person can’t handle everything.

Hospice workers will impose a particular religion on the patient.

Religious professionals of various faiths work at hospices, and they are often referred to as spiritual care counselors with their focus is on broader spiritual concerns, rather than on a particular religion.

Hospice pushes death prematurely.

Some patients fear being administered morphine, which can lead to a quicker death. But the goal of hospice care is to ease the dying process, not to rush it. Hospices do not expedite death, and it is illegal for hospices or staff members to do so. The dying process has to happen naturally. Hospices do not prolong or hasten death. Hospices assist patients with pain relief per the desire of the patient, their family and their Medical Doctor.

It’s expensive.

Many insurance policies cover hospice care. In addition, hospice care is covered by Medicare.

After the death of the patient, there are no services for the family.

Hospice care provides bereavement counseling for family members of the deceased. The length of these services varies, and is at the discretion of the hospice.

Edited from post by Laksha Mehta (Jewish Journal)

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