Understanding why hospice care can be a good option for terminally ill patients is important for the families, as well as the patients themselves. Hospice care is often provided at the patient’s home but can also be done in hospitals and care homes; it provides a safe and comfortable environment for a patient to be cared for and enjoy the rest of their time on Earth, as well as giving family members a much-needed break from constant caregiving.
Hospice Care vs Palliative Care
Although the two are similar and provide a lot of the same benefits, hospice care and palliative are used in different circumstances. Both aim to keep a patient comfortable by managing their symptoms, but palliative care is usually provided to severely ill or injured people who are still seeking remedies, whereas a patient who is no longer seeking curative treatment for their illness may find hospice care more useful than palliative care. It’s important to remember that hospice care is not a specific treatment or facility, but more a philosophy of care to help maintain quality of life.
What is a Hospice Caregiver?
Someone who is responsible for looking after a terminally ill patient is known as a hospice caregiver. This can be a family member, support worker, close friend or anyone else who takes on the duty of care.
Although there may be a primary caregiver, it’s important to share responsibility (as detailed further down). Hospices ensure that all caregivers (including hospice staff and family) coordinate their efforts and provide personalised care to the patient.
There are many proven hospice care studies which conclude that there are crucial benefits for patients that decide to go down this route. As well as helping patients come to terms with their illness, it can help patients and families through the trauma.
It’s important for caregivers to share the responsibility of looking after someone, otherwise it could lead to caregiver burnout. Looking after someone takes a tremendous toll on our physical, mental and emotional health. Having to think about someone else’s health, well-being and stresses on top of all of your other responsibilities in life can be too much for one person to handle. With some extra professional assistance, some of the weight can be lifted from your shoulders.
Having additional support for the day-to-day tasks can improve a family caregiver’s well-being because it allows you to take more time for yourself. This can improve your sleep, personal care, and exercise habits. These are important things to factor into your day to stay healthy and to help make you less irritable, which will ultimately help the patient and any other family members in the long run as well. Creating a more stress-free and calm atmosphere is vital in making the patient as happy and comfortable as they can be.
Creates a Personalised Plan
Having medical professionals with all sorts of different specialities means all aspects of a patient’s needs can be adhered to including easing pain, helping with day-to-day discomforts, and spiritual or other personal needs. With a proper plan implemented, family anxieties can be eased because they can be assured their loved one is going to be as comfortable as they can be.
The last few months of a patient’s life deserve to be lived with dignity. Whatever the reason you’re thinking about hospice care, and perhaps deciding to stop curative treatment, hospices provide a peaceful environment without the constant medical exams and experiments. They also ensure a patient’s wishes are met, such as eating their favourite foods and wearing the clothes they want, which means that they are not restricted in how they want to live their life.
Patient Can Stay Home
In some circumstances, a patient may be able to receive hospice care from home. Allowing a patient to spend their time at their home, rather than being confined to somewhere such as a hospital, can make all the difference to someone. Home is such a special and private place which enables a patient to be in a familiar environment, surrounded by loved ones more often.
For the family, this means no more frequent trips to and from another location. Rather than having to live almost two separate lives (home life and caregiving life), the family can feel whole again. Integrating the patient back into their normal life (or as normal as you can make it) can mean the world to someone.
Hospices make sure to care for the family as a whole and provide counselling to ensure everybody is working through problems together. Chaplains and social workers can guide the family through a difficult time and can continue to provide bereavement support if a patient passes away. Coming to terms with a loss is difficult, even if it is expected, and transitioning into life without your loved one can be made a lot more smooth when there are professionals you can talk to. It’s also so much better to talk to an expert who may have actually known and been involved in caring for your loved one, rather than a stranger.
Less Financial Strain
With endless hospital bills and treatments that don’t often work, opting for hospice care can ease the strain on your financial situation. There are also more options in terms of private health insurances. This can help reduce a lot of the out-of-pocket costs and you won’t have to worry about what you can and can’t afford. This can be a relief to many families because they know their loved one can be taken care of no matter what.
The hospice care philosophy has been proven to help patients and their families in a variety of different ways. Whilst this option may not suit everyone, its benefits are undeniable. With emotional and medical support, as well as ensuring a patient has everything they could wish for in their final months, hospices are a peaceful place that can provide professional care, whilst alleviating stress from family.