I often hear people talk about advance directives in regard to hospice care. What are advance directives?
You have the right to express your wishes regarding the level and kinds of care you might wish to receive if you become unable to make these decisions for yourself. You may choose to express your wishes through advance directives such as a Living Will, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or a Mental Health Treatment Declaration. These documents can express your choices about your future care and, if you choose, name someone to decide for you if you should become unable to speak for yourself.
If you have questions, contact Memorial Home Services at 217-788-4663 or 800-582-8667 and ask to speak with a social worker.
How does hospice care begin?
A nurse from Memorial Home Services Hospice will make a visit to the patient's home (home, nursing home, assisted living facility - wherever the patient calls home) within 24 hours of receiving the referral. We will schedule a time that works best for the patient and family or primary caregiver. During the initial visit, patients are evaluated and, if they meet criteria, are admitted to hospice. During the initial visit, all hospice services are explained, visit schedules are arranged and any questions are answered. We want patients and families to fully understand the care they will receive. We will take the time to get to know you and answer your questions.
Our hospice nurse will work with families to have any needed equipment set up in the home. This includes hospital beds, commodes, or any medical equipment the patient may need. We will work with staff from Memorial Home Services Medical Equipment company to have equipment delivered to the home and set up.
During the first few days of hospice care, families will receive calls from various members of the hospice team, such as our chaplain, social workers, volunteers, etc. We want you to have the full benefit of hospice and fully understand the services available to you and your loved one.
Hospice eligibility requires a life expectancy of 6 months or less. What happens if I live longer than six months?
The life expectancy requirement for hospice does not mean that patients may ONLY receive hospice for six months. Hospice care can last many months, and in some cases, longer than a year. Patients will not be discharged after six months, as long as the physician feels the patient still meets the criteria for hospice. This means that if the disease or illness progresses as anticipated, the patient has a life expectancy of six months or less. Our hospice staff continually evaluates patients to ensure they meet hospice criteria. In some circumstances, patients start to feel better when they begin hospice care.
If discharge is ever necessary and the patient no longer meets criteria, they can be re-evaluated and re-admitted at any time.
Do I have to be homebound to receive hospice services?
No. Hospice patients are encouraged to go out as much as they wish and stay active as possible for as long as possible. We encourage patients to do the things they enjoy and spend time with those they love. Patients may go on as many outings and trips as they are able. We want patients to enjoy and live life to the fullest.
What happens if I change my mind and no longer want hospice services?
Admission to hospice services is completely voluntary. Patients may be discharged at any time if they so desire.
Are there any special changes I need to make to my home before hospice care begins?
No changes are necessary for your home before hospice care begins. Throughout your time with hospice, staff may offer suggestions as to ordering equipment for your home - hospital bed, wheelchair, commode, etc. Medical equipment can make getting around the home a bit easier as patients begin to decline physically. Our staff may also make minor suggestions for making your home more accessible, as well as help families decide how to arrange their space to accommodate the equipment.
Must a caregiver be with me at all times while I am on hospice care?
Hospice will accept patients with or without a caregiver. Should your condition worsen to the point that a caregiver is necessary around the clock, our social workers are available to help you through these decisions and assist in getting the regular help you need.
What if I am no longer able to stay in my home?
Should your condition worsen to the point that you are no longer able to stay at home, our social workers will assist you and your family in finding a place for you to stay - this may be a nursing home, assisted living facility, retirement home, etc. Additionally, our staff will work with you to address any payment questions/issues for the facility you are considering.
How does hospice "manage pain"?
The goal of hospice is to keep patients comfortable and free of pain and symptoms. Our staff specializes in sophisticated methods of pain management to keep patients comfortable in their own home. Memorial Home Services also consults with a pharmacist who specializes in pain mediciations. This helps ensure that medication is used appropriately to manage certain pain and symptoms.
Is hospice available after hours?
Our hospice staff is never more than a phone call away. Even after regular business hours, staff is available "on-call" for after-hour inquiries and emergencies.
How does hospice staff keep patients comfortable - free of pain and symptoms?
Keeping patients comfortable and free of pain and symptoms is our ultimate goal. As illnesses progress, pain and symptoms often increase. Our staff continuously monitors patients for signs of pain and symptoms and work quickly to manage them. We specialize in sophisticated methods of dealing with pain, distress and discomfort.
Our staff will work with the patient's physician to make sure that medication, therapies, and procedures are designed to keep patients as comfortable as possible. This is outlined in each patient's plan of care. This plan is reviewed frequently, along with the patient and family, and guides the care we provide.
When is the right time for hospice?
This is a very common hospice question. The simple answer is - the sooner the better. The earlier hospice is involved, the more we can help to make the final months, weeks and days as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
By choosing hospice sooner, individuals and families can get the full benefit of hospice in a number of ways:
- Patients and their families can get to know their primary nurse and the hospice team. Better rapport and relationships are established.
- Our hospice team can manage pain and symptoms as soon as they begin.
- Our hospice team can begin to prepare families and their loved one for the road ahead.
The greatest benefit to families is the time with their loved one is more pleasant and comfortable because the patient's quality of life is enhanced.
Who can refer to hospice?
The simple answer is... anyone. Patients, friends, family members, or loved ones can make referrals to our hospice program. To make a referral, call us at 217-788-4663 or 800-582-8667.
Can I be admitted to the hospital while on hospice care?
The hospice program at Memorial Home Services is a "home" hospice. Our ultimate goal is to keep patients in the comfort of their own home, close to family and friends, for as long as possible. However, there are times when hospital admissions are necessary.
Sometimes the need arises for hospital admission when pain and symptoms cannot be controlled in the home setting. During this time, patients are admitted to the hospital so that they can be closely monitored. Regular services of the hospice team do not change during a hospital stay. Our nurses, social workers, clergy, etc. continue hospice visits, just as they did before. Once pain and symptoms are controlled, patients can return home.
Patients may also be admitted to the hospital for family respite. While there are limitations to hospital admissions for family respite, they are allowed periodically. End-of-life is often a stressful time for patients and families - emotionally, physically and mentally. Admission to the hospital can provide the respite (short break) when families and loved ones need it.