Deciding on an end-of-life care plan for you or a loved one may be one of the most difficult tasks you ever face. Knowing the facts will make choosing between home hospice care and a facility far less daunting, and hopefully, it will lead you to a choice that provides maximum relief -- both for yourself and your relative or friend in need of care.
What Is Hospice?
Hospice care begins when treatment is no longer effective. It focuses instead on the patient's comfort -- both physical and mental -- and offers counseling and other types of support. Hospice also exists to lessen the care burden on the family or friends involved while reducing the stress of the patient at the same time.
Hospice at Home
The major differences of a home care environment versus a facility revolve around location and finances. In a home setting, your family must consider:
- Is this what the person wants?
- What kind of treatment does the person need for maximum comfort?
- Do we have room for the necessary medical equipment?
- Can family and friends offer their time to help with care?
- Will insurance cover any of the costs?
- Can we afford this option?
Along with home hospice care comes arranging services for your loved one, including visiting nurses, social workers, spiritual advisers, and mental health specialists. Some hospitals offer a "discharge planner" to assist with contacting these specialists. Most importantly, though, your loved one requires a visiting doctor, who will draw up a care plan and regularly check on their status to be sure their comfort and health needs are being met.
For some, flexibility, familiarity, and convenience are the greatest draws to having their family member's care take place at home. However, managing your loved one's comfort on your own or as a family can be incredibly difficult and emotionally taxing. If this becomes a major issue, respite care is an option offered to families who might need a break now and again from day-to-day caregiving activity. These facilities offer 24-hour care for patients and can take them in for a few hours up to a week.
The Advantages of a Hospice Facility
Unlike with home care, hospice facility staff will do most of the work in making all the necessary arrangements for your loved one's care. This option is often less stressful for family members who desire less responsibility and more leisure time spent with their loved one during their last days.
These facilities offer a homelike atmosphere and aim to respect the dignity and comfort of their patients. They also benefit from having all the medical supplies, equipment, and staff right on the premises, able and ready to deal with any medical problems your loved one's condition might present. Most hospice facilities are Medicare-certified, making hospice a more affordable option.
Wants vs. Practicality
The option you choose boils down to what the patient and families want weighed against what's practical. If your loved one is stable and desires to be at home, it may be worth the sacrifice of time and care to meet their needs. If their condition is difficult or family members don't have the means, a hospice facility could be the best option for everyone involved. Talk it through with the patient and their doctors to make the best possible choice. Either way, you can rest assured that hospice care will help ease your loved one's end-of-life transition.