When families get the news that a loved one has a terminal illness, one of the first things they want to know is how much longer the loved one will live. That is a fair question and physicians expect it. While the exact time is unknown, a ballpark of six months signals a discussion about when to stop life-saving measures and begin comfort-based care, which is also known as hospice. It’s also a time when families start to think about how they want to spend the final time with their loved one. It’s also a time to have some discussions about funeral and burial planning.
Those are all uncomfortable discussions in the beginning, but a good hospice team can help ease the discomfort and help families find their way.
The main similarity between hospice and palliative care is that the focus is on pain management and relief of symptoms. About 90% of patients who receive hospice care pay for it with Medicare, which does not cover palliative care.
One of the main differences is with regard to whether the patient has treatment options that are life-saving measures. Patients who receive hospice care have forgone medical measure to preserve their life, whereas with palliative care, they may or may not use life-saving measures.
Individuals who are approved for hospice care, must have two physicians certify that the patient has less than six months to live if the disease follows its usual course, while palliative care can begin at any time. Palliative and hospice care can be provided in the home or in any other setting. Both types of services include emotional support, as well as comfort care.
The Florida Hospice & Palliative Care Association (FHPCA) is a not-for-profit organization that serves as a unified voice for all of the hospice and palliative care organizations in the state of Florida. The organization works to assure excellence in hospice and palliative care and to expand access to programs for the multitudes of seniors living in Florida. FHPCA strives to be the model state for hospice and palliative care services. FHPCA was the 2010 Association of the year, as awarded by the Tallahassee Society for Association Executives and the Advocacy Notebook Project awarded FHPCA with the Trailblazer Award in 2014.
Families can access information or help 24 hours per day by contacting Kindred at Home. The program sends home health aides out to provide help and support. Kindred at Home has trained staff for late-stage dementia and patients with other late-stage diagnoses that are accompanied by dementia.
Florida is one of 23 states that is served by Heartland Hospice, the division of HCR ManorCare, which is the third largest hospice provider in the country. Heartland patients won’t need to sign a DNR to receive services and the facility offers services and care around the clock.
Gentiva Hospice is an affiliate of Kindred at Home. They also provide availability of an on-call nurse around the clock. Gentiva will deliver all necessary equipment and cover it under the hospice care service plan. Gentiva covers prescriptions under Medicaid.
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