What Is Hospice?
Hospice is a specialized health care choice for terminally ill patients. Hospice care offers compassionate medical attention that focuses on pain management, quality of life, and dignity during a patient’s final days. Patients receive expert support designed to relieve their symptoms, but not to cure the disease. If you are living with mesothelioma, you, your family, and your doctor should decide together whether hospice is right for you and when that care should begin.
According to the National Cancer Society, “the hospice philosophy accepts death as the final stage of life: it affirms life and neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice care treats the person rather than the disease, working to manage symptoms so that a person’s last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones.”
Services Provided by Hospice Care
Providers follow different approaches, but they typically offer the same types of services, including:
- Relief from Pain & Symptoms– Even though you will no longer receive care to treat your mesothelioma, you can still treat your symptoms to control pain and discomfort. Your hospice provider will help make sure you are as comfortable as possible, so that you can enjoy the people around you.
- Home Care & Inpatient Care – Most hospice care is provided in the patient’s home, but services can also be offered in a hospital or at extended-care and inpatient hospice facilities.
- Spiritual Support – Your hospice team can help you and your family receive spiritual support. This might include helping you to say good-bye to family and friends or arranging the details for a religious service or secular ceremony.
- Family Involvement – Hospice encourages regular family meetings and open communication. Your hospice team can help you plan these get-togethers and offer advice for positive ways to discuss your condition and explain what everyone can expect. These conversations provide an opportunity for family members to come together and support each other through a stressful time.
- Coordinated Care – An interdisciplinary team coordinates and supervises all care 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. In addition to your hospice provider and your doctor, this team might include a hospital or another inpatient facility, pharmacists, and clergy.
- Respite Care – Taking care of a gravely ill family member or friend can be stressful and difficult. Respite care is a valuable service that gives friends and family some time away from their caregiving duties. These services can typically be provided for up to a 5-day period of time, during which you are cared for in the hospice facility or in a nursing home or hospital.
- Bereavement Care – Bereavement is the time of mourning after a loss. The hospice care team can work with family and friends to help them through the grieving process.
Hospice care can be provided by independent hospices or arranged through hospitals, nursing homes, or other health care systems. Typically, a health care team manages hospice care. This team usually includes doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, and therapists.
Location of Hospice Patient Care
Hospice care is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most patients choose to receive hospice care in their own homes, but these services can also be arranged in a hospital, in a nursing home, or through private hospice facilities.
Paying for Hospice
Medicare and Medicaid typically cover all or most of the hospice care costs in many states. The Department of Veterans Affairs, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations are also potential funding sources. For patients who can’t afford payment, community contributions, memorial donations, and foundation gifts sometimes allow hospices to provide free services.
Finding Hospice Care
Most communities have several hospice providers. You and your family should do some homework and find the one that’s best for you and your specific needs. You might want to begin your research soon after diagnosis, while you have the strength to lead and play a more active role in this important decision.
Your doctor and other medical staff can be a great resource for finding local hospice agencies. You can also find hospice providers through your local Council on Aging, your place of worship, or the organizations below:
Hospice Providers Resources: