It’s common for patients and families to experience a sense of fear surrounding words like hospice, palliative, end of life, and terminal. Those words send some people into a state of confusion and uncertainty. That’s when professionals who work in a chosen field of palliative or hospice care can be of great help. Death is a normal stage of life. Hospice teams of doctors, nurses, caregivers, social workers, and therapists can help normalize the end-of-life stage. Some of the ways that they help families make the transition from medical care to comfort care are by helping them be themselves and better relate to the patient, focusing on empathy, compassion, and quality time.
Hospice doesn’t mean giving up hope, but it may mean redefining what hope is. Hope can also mean using the final months of life to let go of the fear surrounding death and strengthen family bonds.
Hospice patients don’t necessarily need to sign a “Do Not Resuscitate” or DNR form to receive hospice services at home, in a hospital, at an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home.
Hospice doesn’t have to be provided at the patient’s home. It can be provided in other settings, or wherever the patient calls home, at the time he or she needs hospice care.
Hospice is not just for cancer patients. It’s for anyone with a serious illness including end-stage heart or lung disease, ALS, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, or even severe birth defects. Hospice serves families in addition to patients.
Hospice is more than pain control. Services also include providing emotional and spiritual support by the entire hospice team. In most cases, hospice won’t break the bank. Most private insurers cover hospice care. Veterans are covered by TRICARE insurance and many others get coverage through Medicare or Medicaid. While patients with a life expectancy of six months or less are eligible for hospice benefits, there is no limit on hospice benefits.
The state’s leading palliative and hospice care network is the Minnesota Network of Hospice and Palliative Care (MNHPC). The network connects providers, business partners, and individuals together with the goals of increasing knowledge, accessing services, and advocating for people who live with serious illnesses or are in the end of life stage. Their site has a section for individuals and families that answers frequently asked questions and provides other helpful information and resources about hospice care.
MNHPC works in collaboration with local communities and regional organizations, as well as state and national leaders to advance the issues surrounding hospice and palliative care for Minnesota residents. The network also provides outreach to educate Minnesota communities to provide eldercare services for the diverse population, including tribal nations, that exist within the state. Their website includes a helpful search engine where families can pull up hospice and palliative care providers right in their community.
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