Recommending Hospice Care
Initiating the conversation about hospice care with a patient should be done early, but it requires great care and empathy. As a medical professional, how should you approach the subject with your patient and their loved ones?
Start early – Many patients and their loved ones wish they had entered hospice sooner. As a trusted healthcare provider, you can begin having conversations early about when you might recommend hospice care and help minimize the stress by educating the patient well in advance of making a recommendation for hospice.
There are many benefits to choosing hospice care; here are a few to share with your patients:
- Hospice is generally covered by Medicare, so patients need not worry about how to pay for hospice care.
- Care includes visits from hospice professionals, including physicians, nurses, therapists, and others – all focused on making the patient’s remaining time as comfortable as possible.
- Hospice services can be provided where the patient is most comfortable – their home, a hospital, another care facility, or elsewhere.
- The focus of hospice is on pain management and comfort.
- Medicare hospice coverage can include medical equipment and supplies and medication.
- Hospice can include support for family members and loved ones, in addition to the patient.
- Patients can elect to be removed from hospice care to return to disease treatment if they wish. Generally, it is permissible to be re-authorized for hospice later.
Anticipate the reactions – For patients and loved ones, a referral to hospice care can feel like their doctor is giving up. However, as a healthcare professional it is important to realize that this concern is expressed by a minority of patients. But, be prepared with the reasons that you believe hospice care is the proper alternative if the patient reacts this way. Here are a few points that might be helpful:
- The consensus of many healthcare organizations is that patients should not receive aggressive treatment near the end of life because they rarely result in real benefit for the patient.
- People receiving hospice care may live longer. Numerous studies show that the life-quality improvement from stopping treatments such as chemotherapy can extending a patient’s life.
- Hospice care can lead to better pain control, better mental wellbeing, and increased satisfaction.
Provide resources – There are many useful resources available online for patients wanting more information. You can find some on our FAQ page.
You can also suggest that patients and their caregivers contact Siena Hospice to get a no-cost consultation to answer any questions and concerns they may have.
It is important to ensure that patients understand that hospice is not the equivalent of care without a doctor. Specially trained hospice physicians are an integral part of hospice care, wherever it takes place.