Many people worry that they may die in a hospital surrounded by strangers without the loving support of family members to sustain them in their last hours of life. They remain fixated on dying in their own bed at home and make arrangements to have their family members keep them there. What many of these people don’t realize is that a hospice is nothing like a hospital. It is not cold and sterile in appearance, and the staff members don’t rotate so much that everyone remains a stranger.
A hospice is a warm and inviting place that feels like home. It allows its residents the privacy they desire while giving them the attention they need. The staff makes sure their patients are comfortable and relieved of pain. Friends and family can stay with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if they prefer, because there is no limitation to the amount of time that can be spent with their dying loved one.
It is important to discuss end-of-life wishes with your chronically ill family member. Check to be sure he or she has a living will or has clearly related the choices preferred regarding the use of life support. Find out if a health care proxy or medical power of attorney has been delegated in writing. Once this is clear, you can begin to search for the best hospice in your area that can accommodate the requirements of your loved one.
Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a hospice.
- A bed must be available when you need it.
- The hospice should be Medicare-certified if the patient is sixty-five or older, or accepts those on Medicaid who are terminally ill and younger than sixty-five years of age.
- The hospice must be accredited by a nationally recognized organization and be licensed.
- The patient’s attending physician must refer your loved one to the hospice.
- The hospice must determine the individual is in need of hospice care and have the ability to handle their needs.
- You should be able to get references from medical centers, local hospitals, other caregivers, or from people you know who have experienced their facility and its functions first hand.
- Find out the hospice’s expectations of the family members and if they want them to share in the care giving of their loved one.
- Ask if the caregivers are supervised and how.
- See if they have a payment plan and get information about their billing policies.
- Get the facts about their program, and decide if you and your loved one are comfortable with it.
Finding the right hospice is crucial to your terminally ill family member’s emotional and spiritual state. You should look for practical comfort, affordability, and a caring compatible staff. The interior should be sanitary and feel like home. It should also be able to comfortably accommodate any friends and family who wish to visit privately or in a group.
If you investigate thoroughly and select a well-rounded facility where your loved one can live out his or her final days in a pleasant environment, you will both experience an appreciative peace of mind.