Compassionate Care When They Need it Most: A Journey in Hospice Care

Hospice Care is defined as a type of health care that focuses on the palliation of a terminally ill patient’s pain and symptoms and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs at the end of life. In this article, however, we want to throw out sterile definitions and take a closer look at what it means to care for patients that are terminally ill, and the most important aspect of what a great caregiver should have: Compassion.

The Need for Hospice Care

Hospice care is focused attention on caring for the dying with serious illnesses. These are patients that doctors think have only a short time to live, often less than 6 months. Believing that this physical and spiritual treatment will make a huge difference in the patient’s life, physicians, nurses and family members often opt to make this process as comfortable as possible. Hospice involves caring for dying patients by helping them be as free from pain as possible, providing them with assistance to complete wills and other arrangements for their survivors, giving them social support through the psychological stages of loss, and helping family members cope with the dying process, grief, and bereavement. In addition, the process of hospice care will prioritize comfort, quality of life, and individual wishes freely; far away from any stress or restrictions.

Levels of Hospice Care

Patients differ in needs and required care according to their health case; as a result, there are four different stages/ levels of hospice care that meets each patient’s needs.

The four levels of hospice care are available for anyone who is eligible for Medicare:

  • Routine Home Care

Routine home care is the basic level of hospice care provided in your home, assisted living, or nursing home. This level of care offers a team approach by hospice staff and your physician to provide comfort at the end of life.

  • Continuous Home Care

This is when a nurse stays in your home for an extended period of time because the patient is experiencing a medical crisis or having a severe symptoms such as unrelieved pain.

  • General Inpatient Care

Once the patients’ severe symptom requires an advanced level of hospice, they should be moved to specialized places called “General Inpatient Care”. The goal of inpatient hospice care is to control severe pain and symptoms, so the patient can receive the care that is consistent with their wishes.

  • Respite Care

The respite level of hospice care is provided on an occasional basis and offers a planned, short-term break for caregivers who face the challenges of assisting patients with an advanced illness. The patient should receive a plan of care require 24-hour care.

Who are the caregivers? 

Caregivers are the people who have unique features that reflect compassion, love, mercy and hope to give the patient a secure and comfortable space to live. They can be a member of the patient’s family or loved ones; otherwise, it can be people that are specialized to provide such care for the sake of a happy and satisfied final moment/ ending.

Caregivers do not only provide a perfect sensible space, but they also provide help that makes the patient’s life easier when it comes to their daily routine. I would describe the caregivers as “adaptors”, according to the way they adopt their feelings, ideas, and time to fit their patients needs.

In most cases the disciplinary teams include: the nurse, nurses aide, medical assistant, homehealth aide, social worker and the physician.

Hospice Caregivers Challenges 

Caregivers are responsible for taking care of the basic needs of patients and giving hope to the patients for their remaining time. However, there are hidden challenges that caregivers face while performing hospice care. Some of those challenges will be outlined below.

According to caregivers’ continuous care routine, they may face many challenges that affect their daily lives, such as being exhausted exhausted from long hours of work. In addition, caregivers may also have fears about losing their loved one/ patient at any time or making a mistake that could compromise their quality of life. Caregivers may also have a difficult time when it comes to making decisions that may jeopardize the patients comfort level, such as removing a favorite pillow for a new one, or a favorite chair for a newer model, as some patients can become very emotionally attached to these things. High levels of caregiver stress may drive those working in hospice care to feel angry with themselves and/or guilty about decisions they have had to make, often taking that stress home with them.

A Reason to care

Individuals taking care of patients in hospice settings aim to help patients feel mercy, compassion and love, with the goal of providing a peaceful and relaxing end. Often, the greatest challenge is helping the patient feel the will to continue on, as the will to live can often help patients in hospice care hold on for a few more precious moments with family and or loved ones. Giving compassionate care should always be emphasized in any health care setting, especially when caring for those in their final stages of life. This is where the field of medicine truly becomes a calling, not a job description.