What is a hospice agency?
There are many different ways to answer this question depending on your background and experience. As a patient, you may wonder what a hospice agency is. Hospice agencies offer assistance with the end-of-life process, which can be a difficult topic to think about. They can also help family members or friends who are caring for someone who is terminally ill or dying.
Reading about a hospice agency for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. You may not know where to begin. We’ll cover the basics and details to help you understand what a hospice agency is.
What is hospice?
Understanding what a hospice agency is, it’s helpful to know what a hospice is. A hospice is an organization, or program available within an organization, whose purpose is to provide care for people in the final stages of life, and their family members.
The care provided by a hospice can take place in patients’ homes, though some organizations offer residential facilities. Hospices will focus on relieving pain and other symptoms of terminal illness rather than directly attacking the disease itself.
A hospice agency simply refers to this type of organization—that is, an agency that provides care for terminally ill patients and their families (and generally does not provide primary healthcare).
The difference between hospice and palliative care is that the latter can be provided at any stage of serious illness or disability (i.e., not just the end-of-life period), while the former focuses specifically on end-of-life care.
The benefits of hospice care
Hospice care is not just about pain management; it’s about improving the quality of life for both the patient and their family during the last days, weeks, or months of life. Hospice providers can help families plan for these last days by providing information about advance directives, including living wills and do not resuscitate orders (DNRs). They can also assist with other aspects of end-of-life planning, such as funeral arrangements or financial matters related to medical bills. The benefits of hospice care include:
- The primary benefit of choosing a hospice agency is that you and your loved one will be surrounded by a team that focuses on quality of life.
- Hospice care can be provided in your home, in a skilled nursing facility, assisted living facility, or hospital. You may prefer to stay in your own home as long as possible, and hospice services can help make this possible.
- You will have access to pain management specialists and medication that can make a painful or uncomfortable condition easier to bear. Your hospice team will work with you to alleviate all types of physical symptoms you are experiencing. They’ll also provide spiritual support and counsel if it’s something you desire for yourself or your loved one.
- Hospice will provide emotional support for patients and family members alike during the grieving process, which can begin anytime after receiving a terminal diagnosis from your doctor. Having professionals close by who understand exactly what you’re going through is invaluable during this difficult time in your life.
- The focus of hospice is palliative care (comfort). If the patient’s condition warrants it, curative treatment may still continue even after moving into hospice care, but the majority of effort will go toward providing the best possible quality of life until death occurs naturally from his/her condition—which may take months and even years depending on each unique person’s situation
Will my insurance cover hospice?
If you have Medicare, Medicaid, or most private insurance policies, hospice will be covered. There are a few people who must pay for this service themselves, so it is important to check with your insurance company to see if you fall into one of those categories.
Depending on what kind of coverage you have and the services that were provided to you during your stay in a hospice or palliative care, there may be a portion that you will need to pay yourself. The amount depends on your specific policy and the services that were provided.
What does a hospice agency do for you?
A hospice agency is not just limited to the home care services they provide, but also offer a number of other resources and services that can help patients and their families cope with their situation. These include:
A hospice agency will often provide medical equipment for use at homes such as oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, hospital beds, and shower chairs. They may also offer financial assistance to pay for these items.
Home health aides
A hospice agency may employ nurses or other professionals who come out to your home to help you bathe, eat or perform other daily tasks that are difficult with a terminal illness.
Many hospices offer grief counseling services in addition to the medical care they provide patients. These sessions can be helpful in helping both you and your family cope with your loss when death is imminent.
If you’ve made it this far, hopefully, it’s clear that hospice care from a quality hospice agency is a good choice for you or your loved ones. Although the idea of “giving up” can be a hard thing to overcome, as we clearly explained above, hospice care is not about giving up; it’s about making the most of your remaining days.
Seeing a loved one in pain is never easy but with the help of an experienced team and proper management of symptoms, patients can often find relief from their suffering. In addition to medical professionals helping provide the best possible end-of-life care, loved ones will also have ongoing support through social workers and chaplains.
The entire time that your family member is receiving hospice services they will be surrounded by compassionate people who are there to ease their pain and make sure they live out their last days in dignity.
Many families find great comfort and peace through hospice care during this difficult time in life. A quality hospice agency will ensure that patients and families receive the loving support they need so that when the end does come, everyone involved remembers how much was done to improve their quality of life during those final months or years.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with all of the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not hospice care is right for you or someone close to you who may be facing a terminal illness.
GreySteps is where you will learn how to find the best senior care options for yourself or loved ones. We provide guides and resources for independent living, long-term acute care hospitals, hospice and other senior care options. Learn more by visiting us at https://greysteps.com.