How is hospice care tailored to a person's needs?

Juliet Wilkinson
Oncology Nursing
Something you cannot anticipate -- your needs at the end of your life. You may think that pain control would be highest on your needs list, only to find that an unresolved spiritual concern is overshadowing that pain. Hospice care plans are tailored to meet those individual needs without having a preset focus -- your social worker, chaplain, nurse and doctor will work with you to discover your personal end of life concerns and help you meet your personal goals as much as possible. Just as every patient is different, their families vary as well. Hospice takes the individual, their family, environment, spirituality and cognition into consideration while giving care to each person.
Hospice care is flexible and can be molded to fit the different needs and lifestyles of patients and their caregivers. Care is primarily focused on making the patient as comfortable as possible when a cure can no longer be expected. 

Hospice services can include:
  • Medical and physical care for the patient
  • Management of the best prescribed pain-control treatments
  • Emotional and spiritual support for patients and their loved ones
  • Assistance with practical issues for patients and caregivers
The different levels of hospice care include:
  • Home care is provided in a private home, nursing home, assisted living facility, or other group home. The hospice staff offers hands-on care, assessment of your loved one’s condition and symptom management. They also help you and other caregivers learn how to provide day-to-day care. Hospice services include updates about what is happening and assisting the patient and caregivers to plan for the future.
  • In-home crisis care (also called continuous care) is short-term care that is available in the home when symptoms cannot be managed by the usual caregivers. Under some health insurance plans, between 8 and 24 hours of nursing support for crisis care can be provided in the home each day for a limited number of days. The hospice provider determines when such care is needed and for how long. Depending on the needs of the patient, he or she might remain at home or be hospitalized for pain or symptom management following in-home crisis care.
  • Inpatient hospice care is delivered in healthcare facilities such as a hospital, nursing home, or hospice facility. This type of care is used to manage pain or other symptoms that cannot be addressed at home. The length of stay depends on how long it takes to control the symptoms. If needed after the symptoms have been controlled, hospice can help make arrangements for continued care in another care setting.
  • Respite care provides time for home caregivers to rest while the patient is cared for in an inpatient setting or nursing facility for up to five days.
In some very advanced cases, the majority of hospice care is provided at home though the patient or loved ones choose that death occur somewhere else. Though this is likely to be a very difficult subject to discuss, it may be best to make a decision like this early enough so that everyone is comfortable with what occurs during the final days and hours.       

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.