Hospice care in a nursing home?

Hal Friedman
Director of Business Development

Many family members and patients aren’t aware that hospice services can be made available to residents in nursing homes. Hospice focuses on comfort and support and allows patients to remain in a familiar setting – whether in a nursing home, in a residential care facility or transitioning to home.

 Here are some questions and comments I have received in the past.

 My loved one already has access to a wide array of services, including social work and physical therapy, at the nursing home. Why do we need hospice?

 With hospice professionals assisting facility staff, patients and families will receive an added measure of emotional, physical and spiritual support. Hospice nurses are experts in managing complex pain and symptoms that would other-wise send a patient to the hospital.  In addition, hospice offers a team of professionals to tend to the most personal of needs and to supplement the care a patient is already receiving. The hospice team is also available to meet regularly with family members to explain the course of the disease and what to expect as the end of life approaches.

 After the death of a loved one, hospice continues to care for the whole family, offering grief counseling by bereavement counselors. Additionally, counselors and specially trained volunteers may facilitate a variety of bereavement support groups, workshops and events for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one.

 We thought hospice was just for cancer patients.

 While cancer remains the number one diagnosis for patients receiving hospice care nationwide, it accounts for less than half of the patients who enroll in hospice each year. Hospices admit a significant number of patients with diagnoses such as: Alzheimer’s disease and dementia; heart, lung, kidney and liver diseases; stroke; HIV/AIDS; debility and neurological diseases like ALS.

 We already have doctors  and nurses we trust. Will they remain involved in our loved one’s care?

 Hospices generally won’t replace the care provided by trusted doctors and nurses (Gilchrist doesn’t). Rather, those same medical professionals will become a vital part of the hospice team, which includes physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, aides, volunteers, and bereavement counselors. The hospice team will collaborate with patients, their families and medical personnel from the facility to ensure that your loved one receives the finest in end of life care.

 Happy New Year-Hal

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