What is Hospice?
Experts in End of Life Care
Hospice is a philosophy of specialized care and support for people with a terminal illness and their loved ones. Hospice is about life! It focuses on quality of life rather than quantity. It emphasizes living each day to its fullest.
A common phrase Agape hears is,
“I wish we knew about hospice sooner”
Agapé Hospice & Palliative Care not only provides skilled pain management for the patient, but also emotional support, spiritual care, and grief support for family members following the death of a loved one. Hospice cares for the person, not the disease while re-affirming life, and focusing on dignity, comfort and quality in the remaining months, weeks, and days. Hospice neither hastens nor slows the natural progression of life.
Agapé Hospice & Palliative Care brings a dedicated team of professionals from a variety of disciplines: Doctors, nurses, spiritual counselors, social workers and volunteers. Our team is skilled and experienced in assisting the patient and family through the transition from curative care to comfort care.
At this point, no active or curative therapies are undertaken. Patients are then allowed the opportunity to transition with less or without pain, and with as much independence, dignity and respect as their disease will allow.
The benefit of hospice is that it allows the patient and family to stay together in the comfort of their own home. Agape Hospice & Palliative Care’s vision is to help people leave this world peacefully, comfortably, and surrounded by people who care.
When to Consider Hospice
For most people, having end of life discussions with family members is very difficult and, in most cases, avoided. Although difficult, it is best for families to share their wishes long before this becomes an immediate concern. In many circumstances patients with a terminal illness may lose their ability to communicate with loved ones, leaving family members to assume, and forced to make uncomfortable decisions during an already stressful time.
Hospice is for people who have a life expectancy of six months or less and have chosen to focus on pain and symptom relief over healing treatment. People considering hospice need to ask themselves just a few questions.
Is the Patient Facing a Life-Limiting Illness Such As:
- Heart Disease
- Respiratory Diseases
- Neurologic Diseases
- Liver/Renal Failure
- Stroke or Coma
What are the Patient’s Goals and Wishes?
Agape Hospice & Palliative Care listens to our patients and designs a care plan based on their preferences for end-of-life treatment. This process known as Advance Care Planning (ACP) ensures the patient’s wishes are known and honored if they reach a point that they are unable to communicate.
The Agape team will then craft a care plan that includes certain procedures or interventions that should, or should not be pursued, and honors the patient’s wishes while focusing on the quality of life. Our clinicians are experts in assessing whether a patient is appropriate for hospice, and can meet with the patient and family for a free evaluation.
Is the Patient Showing Signs of Decline and Losing Quality of Life?
Factors to Consider if it’s Time for Hospice:
- Has a doctor certified the patient has six months or less to live.
- Are curative treatments are no longer effective or are creating side effects, undue suffering or discomfort.
- Does the patient no longer wish to be hospitalized.
- Is the patient losing the ability to perform the activities of daily living (dressing, eating, personal hygiene, maintaining continence, transferring).
- Has the patient lost 10% or more of body weight.
- Has the patient had multiple hospitalizations or emergency room visits.
- Is the patients physical activity or mental alertness declining.
Frequently Patients Live Longer and More Comfortable with Hospice
In March 2007 National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization conducted a study looking at 4,493 Medicare beneficiaries with some of the most common diagnoses leading to death. Patients who received hospice services lived on average, 29 days longer than those who did not receive hospice care and lived a better quality of life.
There is no time limit for a patient on hospice. Hospice is for patients who are expected to live six months or less, but can be extended if the patient continues to be appropriate. If our staff determines that a patient’s prognosis is extended, Agape will discharged the patient from our service and carefully transition the patient with an appropriate plan in place.
**The Chart represents a survival curve for patients with CHF.