Consider Hospice when Focus is Comfort over Cure
“One of the most common things we hear from families is, ‘I wish I had known about Hospice sooner,’” says Marcia Taylor, RN, MSN, Rapid City Regional Hospital Director of Home Care
and Hospice. Taylor is on a mission to educate more people about Hospice, a philosophy of care that provides medical and supportive services to those who have a shortened life expectancy and who would usually prefer to die at home without extra life-extending measures.
Hospice offers physical, emotional and spiritual care for patients, of all ages, and families. It focuses on quality of life and includes friendly, positive visits from nurses, aides, social workers, and volunteers to help control patient symptoms and bring comfort and support to loved ones.
“Hospice is not about increasing the number of days, but on increasing the quality of life,” Taylor explains. “The emphasis is on comfort. The Hospice team will not do anything to either hasten or prolong death.”
At any time during a life-limiting illness, it’s appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including Hospice.
“It is the right time to consider Hospice when you are ready to focus on comfort over cure,” Taylor says.
By law, the decision to enter a Hospice program belongs to the patient. Most Hospice
programs accept patients who have a life-expectance of six months or less and who have referred by their personal physician.
When considering Hospice care for a loved one, Taylor suggests the following before meeting with a physician or health care provider:
- Write down questions. Before an appointment, give the health care provider’s staff a copy of your written questions and ask that they be put on the front of the chart so the doctor or health care provider can see them.
- If you have noticed changes in your loved one’s physical condition, let the physician or provider know. You can always ask if it is time to focus on Hospice, palliative, or comfort care.
- When a treatment is suggested, ask the benefits and the burdens of the treatment. For example, “What are the risks and likely outcomes?”
If it is decided Hospice care is appropriate, a physician or health care provider can write an order for a Hospice consultation. A Hospice team member can then meet with the patient and family to discuss Hospice options.
In the Black Hills, Hospice care is available in a person’s own home, nursing homes, assisted living centers, a Hospice suite in Sturgis, and at the Rapid City Regional Hospital Auxiliary Hospice House. Hospice of the Hills serves patients in Pennington, Custer, Fall River counties, and adjacent communities in Meade County. Hospice of the Northern Hills provides care in Lawrence, Butte and Meade counties.
For more information about Hospice, call Hospice of the Hills at (605) 755-7710 or Hospice of the Northern Hills at (605) 644-4000.