The end-of-life stage is trying and difficult for the person who has the life-threatening illness, as well as their family members and others that love them. Having a better understanding of how others have coped with an impending loss of life may help the patient and family members prepare to cope when they are in a similar stage. Knowing that life-limiting illnesses have distinct phases and understanding them better can help families tremendously. It also helps to have quality hospice staff employed to help the ill individual with chronic pain and to help the family members enjoy the final months of life.
There are four phases of a life-limiting illness. They are:
The phase before the diagnosis The acute phase The chronic phase Recovery or death
Well-trained hospice workers know that during the phase before the diagnosis, families need to prepare early and plan for financial advice, legal advice, and communicating with family members. During the acute phase, family members will need support for making care and placement decisions. During the chronic phase, family members need respite and support so that they can spend more time with their loved one. The final phase is grief and families that understand the stages of grief will work through that phase more easily.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) offers some helpful tips for choosing quality hospice care. Find out if the Hospice provider is Medicare certified. If they are, it means that they are subject to the quality standards, rules, and regulations that are set by the federal government. Inquire about whether the facility has been surveyed by a state or local oversight agency and if any deficiencies were noted. If the organization had deficiencies, find out if or how they were resolved. Family members should also find out if the provider is a NHPCO member and if they accredited by a national organization.
Transitions Life Care offers expert medical care that is supervised by an attending physician. Registered nurses are on-call 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The program provides all medication, medical equipment, and supplies. Compassionate workers provide emotional and spiritual support, as well as companionship and respite.
Heartland Hospice Care ministers to the body, mind, and spirit for individuals that have a life-limiting illness. The program provides management of pain and other symptoms. They also provide medications, medical equipment, and supplies, as well as various types of therapies. Workers provide the patient and family with education, psychosocial support, spiritual support, and bereavement education.
Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services help families understand that death is a natural stage of life and that hospice is less about focusing on death and more about embracing each day and sharing time with their loved one. In addition to providing medical care for the ill individual, the program offers support for the family members and caregivers from the beginning of end-of-life stage until the end.
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