Board of Directors: Hospice Care
Hospice care is one of those vital concepts not only subject to misinformation among family and professional caregivers (including, our loved one’s physicians), but is, unfortunately, also subject to what I call “malformation.” This occurs when what you think you know about a subject is not only wrong, but also greatly distorted.
This is why it is so important to discuss hospice care in a Caregiver Board of Directors’ Meeting. These meetings happen when we spend some of the time we are with family members this season to talk about topics relating to our loved one’s care. It only makes sense that if you are CEO of Caring for My Loved One, Inc., your family members not involved with the daily care of your shared loved one are, in effect, your Board of Directors (for better or for worse).
In this case, the most important goal for your meeting is to sweep away the myths about hospice care in order to make decisions based on something best stated by Jack Webb in the T.V. series Dragnet: “Just the facts.”
Caregiver Board of Directors: Hospice Myth-Busters
First, what is hospice?
Hospice is a philosophy of care. It treats the person rather than the disease and focuses on quality of life. It surrounds the patient and family with a team consisting of professionals who not only address physical distress, but emotional and spiritual issues as well. Hospice care is patient-centred because the needs of the patient and family drive the activities of the hospice team.
Myth: Hospice care is only delivered in settings other than my loved one's home.
Reality: Hospice is a concept of care. Not a place. In fact, the majority of hospice care in the nation is provided at home.
Myth: Invoking hospice is the same as “giving up.”
Reality: Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, hospice's emphasis on quality of life and easing pain often allows your loved one to spend their last months focusing on the things that are most important and meaningful.
Myth: Hospice care can be expensive.
Reality: Hospice care is covered under provincial health authorities and private insurance plans, and patients receive hospice care regardless of ability to pay.
Myth: We should always wait for the doctor to suggest hospice care.
Reality: Actually, according to Harvard Medical School: Physicians may delay bringing up hospice for a number of reasons. For one, doctors are committed to conquering disease, so referring a patient to hospice can seem like a sign of medical failure on their part. Many say they don’t want to take away a patient’s hope. Physicians may also fear losing contact with their patients, not realizing that they can and should be a part of the hospice team.
I am afraid too many caregivers and even physicians don’t consider hospice soon enough when necessary. And I can tell you firsthand just how important hospice can be, not only for your loved one’s care, but also for your own peace of mind.
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Gary Barg is the Editor-in-Chief of Today's Caregiver Magazine, caregiver.com and the Caregiver Newsletter. You can received his newsletter for free by going to caregiver.com and signing up.