From Hospice 101 to Hospice Care in Practice
“The irony of the human condition is that we are so focused on reaching some point in our journey, some happiness, or some goal, that we seem to forget that the journey itself is where life happens.” (author unknown)
As Americans, we often don’t understand hospice or simply choose to ignore it. “It’s not for me, no.” But the reality is that anyone may one day need hospice care and it can help those people and their loved ones significantly. So we want to help break it down for you. In Part 1, we talk about hospice basics, and in Part 2, we outline how hospice care is put into practice through our hospice care service at Constellation Health Services.
Part 1: Hospice 101
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice is a word that many have heard, but don’t necessarily understand. Odds are, you know someone who has received hospice care. But what exactly is it? Hospice care is a range of services that can be delivered in a variety of settings based on need. The goal of hospice is to provide comfort for those who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and are nearing the end of their life.
Who Benefits from Hospice Care?
To qualify for hospice, a hospice doctor and doctor of the person considering hospice (if available) must certify that the individual has a terminal illness and life expectancy of 6 months or less. When accepting hospice care, an individual acknowledges this prognosis and agrees to stop life-prolonging treatments. One common misperception is that hospice care is only for the individual receiving services. In reality, hospice care provides services and support for the entire family or caregiver on this journey.
Where is Hospice Care Provided?
There are options when it comes to where hospice care can be received. Hospice can follow an individual wherever they are—hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and homes. Once hospice services have begun, hospice staff will be with the patient and loved ones through every step of the journey—from making regular visits to the home to being available around the clock for questions or emergencies.
Who is Involved in Hospice Care?
Hospice is an approach to care designed to serve the mind, body, and spirit. As a result, it is typically delivered by an all-encompassing team including a hospice medical director, nurses, home health aides, social workers, spiritual counselors or chaplains, and volunteers. Care teams work closely with a patient’s primary care doctor and other specialists in the community in order to provide the best care possible. With every human touchpoint, the goal—always—is to improve an individual’s quality of life.
How is Hospice Care Financed?
Hospice services are eligible for coverage through Medicaid, Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and private insurance programs, making hospice an affordable solution that comes with many benefits.
Part 2: Constellation’s Complete Care Solution for Hospice
Every individual has their own story and at Constellation we understand and honor that. We employ a Complete Care Solution that is built around connecting a compassionate hospice team with resources and technology to enhance the lives of those facing life-limiting diseases. Working with every individual and family member to deliver personalized, patient-centered hospice services is a top priority. In a recent example, Constellation was able to facilitate the necessary steps and care needed to support an individual with lung cancer and a recent diagnosis of COVID-19. Our compassionate team offered this individual the best care possible—all from the comfort of their home.
Deborah Moeller, Constellation’s Director of Hospice and Palliative Care in Connecticut, has been working in hospice services for over two decades and understands the nuances of care.
“At Constellation we promote a key piece, which is comfort for both the individual and family,” she says.
Constellation delivers hospice care to wherever the individual calls home. Below are services included in our hospice care:
- Expert pain and symptom control
- Coordinated care and strong communication with physicians, caregivers, and families
- Caregiver education and support
- Guidance and preparation necessary for advanced care planning
- Spiritual and emotional wellness including bereavement support
- Aligning community outreach and services such as medication or grocery delivery
- Regular, scheduled visits with our care team
- 24-hour telephone support
- Integrative services and veterans recognition
“We take a lot of cases that other hospices won’t because we meet individuals where they are, whether that’s in a skilled nursing facility or at home,” Moeller said. “We evaluate each person at their level of care, needs, and expectations, then customize our plan to best suit them.”
Services may be as simple as coordinating grocery or medication delivery, or more complex such as specialized therapies and medical dosing.
Physician oversight is the basis for sound medical decisions and is fulfilled by caring nurses, aides, social workers, and chaplains to support individuals and family members during the individual’s personal journey. While the Constellation hospice care team specializes in cardiac, respiratory, cancer, and memory care, they also expertly care for all hospice patients facing a wide range of conditions and under a variety of unique circumstances.
Taking care of a family member with a life-limiting disease can be a daunting task, and sound clinical services are only part of the journey. Equally as important is the emotional well-being of individuals and families. Our team members shift roles to meet evolving needs. Medical social workers, spiritual counselors, and volunteers are invaluable—providing companionship and a helping hand that can greatly ease the burden on loved ones.
READ AN ACCOUNT OF HOW HOSPICE WAS LIFE-CHANGING FOR ONE INDIVIDUAL AND HER FAMILY.
“Here at Constellation, we have a tremendous group of people who not only have a high skill level but are also compassionate,” said Moeller. “The care and support that our providers offer is amazing.”
As a family-owned, family-centered organization, Constellation’s hospice care focuses on treating people like family and developing relationships to foster the delivery of expert-level hospice care. Moeller is proud of the team she has around her and the consistency they bring.
Our role is to guide and support individuals and their loved ones by providing care coordination, improving comfort, offering spiritual and emotional support, and ultimately helping to provide peace of mind throughout the process.
At Constellation, we know that the hospice process may be difficult to understand and navigate. When it comes to selecting a hospice care program, our compassionate hospice team is ready to guide you or your family through it. Contact us today.
If you are still wondering what you need to know when looking for a hospice care provider, the following are questions you should be asking:
- How is the provider ranked by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)?
- Who is involved in the hospice team? How are they trained and screened?
- Who will I contact in case of emergency or if immediate support is required?
- What services are available to the family?
- If caregiver support is needed, is that provided or referred? Is that an additional cost?
- How are hospice costs covered?
- Can the hospice team work in various settings (home, nursing homes, hospitals, etc.)?
Constellation’s Complete Care at Home approach takes patients through the care continuum utilizing human connection and technology to provide the best patient care. For hospice patients and their families, that means from start of services to bereavement services 13 months after end-of-life. We are there throughout that journey. Constellation is a family-owned, family-centered organization that has remained true to our commitment to providing the best patient experience and the highest quality outcomes. We believe this is accomplished by ensuring that everyone we connect with feels valued, trusted, and heard. Learn how we can help you.