Over and over I like to say that at SilverStone we work with the living, not the dying, especially since hospice has been proven to prolong life for patients who receive these services early enough in their diagnosis, as they tend to receive better care. I believe too often that patients are kept in the acute care system for longer than they should due to various factors, including late physician referrals, lack of family understanding about hospice, and cultural barriers, and as a result, many Americans die in hospitals and other facilities that do not prioritize quality of life.
Understanding end-of-life care options is essential for ensuring that patients receive treatments consistent with their wishes. Learning the basics about hospice and palliative care can help your family make the best decisions for your loved ones. In these pages, I’ve outlined what you need to know about hospice programs to help you navigate some difficult choices.
Before becoming SilverStone’s CEO, I started my journey in hospice as a vigil volunteer, holding patients’ hands at the bedside, and this is what I can say for sure: Hospice is never about giving up hope, it is about expanding quality of life, about exceptional medical care, and about love. I’ve seen the experiences of families caring for loved ones with hospice, and without hospice, and I’ll advocate for hospice all day long, hospice is truly a gift for the family. And it is from that place of firsthand experience, combined with our team’s 30-year journey caring for hospice patients, that I offer you the guidance contained in these pages.
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is a type of treatment that focuses on aggressive symptom management for patients who are battling a terminal illness. Hospice offers a team that supports the efforts of families and caregivers to help patients receive a higher quality of life. Hospice doesn’t mean giving up, and it doesn’t mean giving up hope.
Who Pays for Hospice Care?
The short answer is that Hospice is covered 100% by Medicare, Medicaid, or most private insurances. There are no out-of-pocket expenses to receive your hospice benefit.
Before receiving coverage, a doctor must certify that you are terminally ill with a life expectancy of under six months. A patient who receives hospice care must also sign a statement that they choose hospice instead of other Medicare-covered treatments of their illness.
Benefits can cover symptom management services, social worker services, pain relief medication, nurse and nurse’s aide visits, medical doctor oversight, and all medical equipment, including beds and wheelchairs when the needs are related to the illness.
What Does Hospice Care Provide?
Hospice care provides a broad range of services meant to assist with every aspect of end-of-life care. Interdisciplinary services offered by a palliative care organization are necessary for improving quality of life.
Palliative Care & Symptom Management
Palliative care addresses the pain and other symptoms limiting the patient’s quality of life. These treatments differ from curative treatments that aim solely to cure the illness.
National hospice and palliative care programs often offer therapy sessions to help patients cope with terminal illness’s psychological distress. Talking to a therapist can help patients and family members work through grief to find acceptance.
Emotional & Spiritual Care
Dealing with death can also impact the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of hospice patients. (Chaplains are part of the collective care team at hospice to provide spiritual guidance and healing at the end of life.)
Facing the death of a loved one is incredibly hard on family members. Hospice care staff receive training to support family members through the process. Nurses can help teach family members how to care for their loved ones at home, and social workers can assist families with their feelings.
Coordination of Care
Patients have complex needs at the end of life that require services from a variety of skilled professionals and family members. The service providers team will create the best hospice plan for the patient with coordinated inpatient and outpatient care.
Bereavement support helps people who have suffered the recent loss of a loved one. This service provides personal and practical advice to cope with the grief associated with death.
Respite care offers short term relief for primary caregivers who need assistance providing long-term care for hospice patients. Coverage can be arranged for different lengths of time and is provided in a healthcare facility of the patients choosing.
The nutritional requirements of a hospice patient differ significantly from a healthy person. When the body begins shutting down, their appetite diminishes. If forced to eat, they may experience more complications
Acting as a caregiver for a dying family member can be a heavy burden. A hospice team can provide caregiver assistance by:
- Providing information and answering questions
- Offering bereavement services for family members
- Providing respite care
At SilverStone Hospice
With the example of Silverstone Hospice every patient & family receives access to the following:
- Physician oversight
- 24 hour on-call nurse
- Medical equipment and supplies
- Medication for pain management and symptom control
- Routine in-home care
- Consistent weekly nurse visits
- Respite for caregiver relief
- Crisis care
- Mental health and wellness
- Bereavement and emotional support
- Volunteer Program
- We Honor Veterans Program
- No One Dies Alone Program
The Hospice Team
The hospice team works together to maximize the hospice patient’s quality of life by providing various services for different needs associated with the end of life.
Primary Care Physician
We welcome your primary care physician to remain involved with the hospice care team as a trusted health care provider to ease the transition of care and support your comfort at this time.
Hospice Medical Director
Hospice medical directors oversee patient care and team coordination. They will help establish goals for hospice care and participate in important decisions.
Registered nurses coordinate with primary physicians and medical directors with regular nursing assessments. Nurses may visit patients anywhere from one to seven times per week to monitor symptoms and supervise medical care provided by family members and health aides.
Chaplains provide ongoing spiritual care and support and can coordinate with your loved one’s community religious leader. Hospice chaplains emphasize spiritual care that addresses existential issues associated with dying and end of life care needs.
Social workers use psychological assessments to create a care plan that meets the emotional and practical needs of the patient. They are liaisons between the patient, family, and community to provide supportive resources. They can also provide counseling for families and their loved ones.
A hospice aide can help you take care of your loved one and assist with some housekeeping. They can be invaluable in teaching family members how to care for the loved one and take some burden off of primary caregivers.
Bereavement counselors help guide caregivers through the process and provide support for patients facing eventual death. Services for family members carry on after your loved one passes away to help you cope with grief.
Hospice volunteers donate their time to provide companionship for the family and patient. They receive hospice training and can perform errands for the family.
At SilverStone Hospice, through our No One Dies Alone Program, our volunteers are specially trained to wait with our patients as their time of transition draws close. We support our patients as they are in their final 24-48 hours, especially if they live alone and are without family or friends.
Our team is as committed to medical and safety guidelines as it is prepared to advocate on behalf of our loved ones in the midst of challenging times. We sit bedside and hold the hand of our patients, we read poems to them, we listen to their favorite music as they lay with shallow breath.
We master the art of being present beside our patients and are always accessible to the family in the most challenging of circumstances. We are fiercely compassionate and vigilantly support each patient, so that no one dies alone.
The primary caregiver is responsible for the personal care of the hospice patient. Often, this responsibility falls with family members looking after a loved one.
What Are The 4 Types of Hospice Care?
When many people come to us asking, “What is hospice?” they often think that it is one type of care. Hospice can provide different care levels for patients at home or in a hospice house, depending on their needs.
Routine Home Care
Routine home care is the most common hospice service. It involves the hospice team delivering care as needed where the patient is most comfortable, at home.
Continuous Home Care
Continuous home care is more intensive care for patients who need help around the clock to manage their acute symptoms. Hospice team caregivers work continuously to care for the patient.
Inpatient Hospice Care
General inpatient care is required when symptoms become unmanageable at home. This type of care is provided short-term in a hospital’s hospice unit or a long-term care residence.
Respite care is short term care that allows family caregivers to take a break when needed. It can also help patients who need more intensive support on occasion.
What is the Difference Between Palliative Care and Hospice?
Hospice provides palliative care at the end of life. Palliative care provides support for people with chronic illnesses who are still seeking curative measures.
When in Hospice, How Long Do you Have to Live?
Patients are eligible for hospice when a physician indicates they have less than six months to live due to a terminal diagnosis without the option or election to seek aggressive curative treatment. However, you can continue hospice care longer than this period if you still meet requirements.
There are rare cases when the patients’ condition improves and the patient leaves hospice.
When is Hospice Recommended?
Doctors recommend hospice for patients with a terminal diagnosis who need medical and emotional support during the end of life. Now, if you ask me, “Alfonso, when should I look into Hospice?” I’ll respond: As soon as you are eligible, as soon as an enlightened doctor makes the suggestion. The sooner you do it, the more comfortable yours or your loved one’s journey with a terminal disease will be, and the longer you or they will live.
When is it Time to Contact Hospice?
It may be time to contact hospice if your loved one has experienced a rapid decline in health despite aggressive medical treatments. Uncontrolled pain, mental withdrawal, sudden weight loss, frequent visits to the hospital, and an inability to perform daily living tasks are all critical signs that hospice is necessary. The short answer: The sooner the better.
Summary of Hospice FAQs
Home hospice allows patients to stay in their own homes while they receive hospice care from visiting professionals.
A hospice house is a peaceful residence dedicated to short-term hospice care. Patients can receive specialized inpatient care around the clock.
Home health care involves medical professionals delivering treatment for a disease or injury at home. Hospice care is exclusively for those with terminal illnesses.
When someone is in hospice care, they have received a terminal diagnosis and prioritized their quality of life instead of curative treatments.
Hospice can help with daily activities that become difficult as your loved one's health declines, including bathing.
Medicare covers hospice care in Texas. Patients can also use private insurance.
At Silverstone, our mission is to empower families to provide the best care and experience for their loved ones. We approach hospice services with compassion and a desire to provide the highest quality end-of-life care. From answering “what is hospice?” to specific aspects of palliative care, we offer comprehensive support for patients and their families to help address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs associated with death. You can trust us to help ensure that your loved one enjoys their final days with comfort, peace, and dignity. The best hospice care provides hope at the end of life, allowing patients to make the most of their remaining time. SilverStone Hospice offers beyond what’s expected by regulation; filling the gap where other hospice companies fail with its No One Dies Alone program.
Please call us at 214-954-7285, one of our care specialists will be happy to assist you and ensure you are not alone when exploring care choices, we’ll be with you every step of the way.