Hospice 911

Hospice 911

By Michelle Gies

Hospices have been facing new challenges lately.

Referrals are coming in so late which result in patients only receiving the benefits of hospice care for hours to days, or maybe a week of service. We are getting more and more calls with urgent “911” emergency – “need visit as soon as possible, patient is actively dying.”

This breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart because I know that most of these patients qualified for hospice probably for many months prior to the referral. It also means that there are a great number of patients and their families who will not receive the full benefits of hospice care. They do not have the opportunity to really get to know their care team: to have the heart-to-heart spiritual conversations with their pastoral team member, or to talk to their social worker about their loved one and the person that they were before the disease took over. All of this takes time; time to build relationships and establish trust.

Instead of the rich experience hospice can be for the patient and the family, hospice care by necessity turns into last minute symptom management to keep the patient comfortable during the dying process. This very-end of life care is needed, and is done well by the hospice team, but families could have received that and much more.

So, caregivers: how can you change this epidemic? Give your loved one the “gift” of the opportunity to have an important conversation. Talk to your loved one about their goals of care. Many patients tell us when we ask what their goal is – “No one ever asked me that before.” Talk to your loved one’s physician – be proactive and have the conversation about the treatment plan and make sure that the plan lines up with your loved one’s goals of care.

And then, think about all those questions yourself, and write down your own wishes.

Holy Redeemer

For nearly 80 years, the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer have served the community through their mission to care, comfort, and heal. The visionary Sisters created a health system committed to helping people achieve optimal health no matter where they are in life. This includes delivering exceptional medical care not only within the hospital, but also through our outpatient, home care, and long-term care facilities and services. As a result, our health system is well-positioned to serve the community now and in the future.

3 Responses to “Hospice 911”

  1. Lynn Piccoli

    Thank you so much and said so very well…Studies have shown that when asked about hospice most famlies respond with “If I had only known earlier….”

    Reply
  2. Joanne Squires

    Well said! I know that I was the opposite of what you are experiencing – I knew what hospice could do for my mom, and for me as her caregiver. I talked – a LOT – to her doctor about it. I am grateful to him that he agreed. It gave my mom the best last months of her life and allowed she and I to have a remarkable time together. I have in the recent past, actually helped a family make that decision based on our experience and I was so glad they were blessed by moving forward with hospice. I could never say enough about hospice care.

    Reply

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