by Thuy Hanh Trinh, MD,
Team Physician at Houston Hospice
Hospice is a specialized kind of care with a team of people dedicated to supporting the patient and family when a patient has a life-limiting illness of six months or less.
Who can receive hospice care?
Patients with a prognosis of six months or less can receive hospice care. When further testing or curative treatments may cause harm or discomfort, then the patient and family may choose There needs to be 2 physicians who agree that it’s the right time for a patient to referred to hospice, the patient’s treating physician and the physician on hospice.
Where is hospice located?
Hospice can provide care where ever the patient lives. The team of nurses, social workers, and chaplains, directed by a physician, can make home visits to address the medical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the patient and family. Medications and medical equipment can be delivered to the home. A nurse is available, whether it is holidays or weekends, to ensure the patient and family have their questions answered.
What does hospice provide?
Hospice provides supportive care for the patient and family. Benefits of having hospice care include medications for symptoms, like pain, nausea or shortness of breath and emotional and spiritual counseling for the patient and loved ones. The goal is to have the smallest doses of medications necessary for symptom management while having the patient be as alert as his/her body allows. One of the key benefits of hospice is bereavement support, in which the hospice may provide calls, mailings, and support groups for loved ones thirteen months after the patient has passed away.
When is the right time for hospice?
When further testing or treatments may be more painful or harmful to the patient, or when the long emergency room visits or cumbersome intensive care unit stay are no longer beneficial, that is when hospice can provide support for the patient and the caregivers.
How can a patient be referred to hospice?
One of the most difficult decisions may be to choose hospice care, but it is a loving decision that can lead to more quality time for the patient and family in their home, allowing the patient and family to remain in their own surroundings. A call to the hospice office can be made by the patient, a family member, or a member of the medical care team. A referral from the patient’s physician is required to start the process of getting the patient and family the hospice care that can give them peace of mind that they never have to be alone, because a whole team of people are available to help them along the way, which is the kinder way.
by Thuy Hanh Trinh, MD,