(Many thanks to our guest blogger, Ellen J. Windham, hospice professional and author of the new book, “Hospice: The Last Responder“. It is absolutely critical that each of us be informed about our options regarding hospice. Otherwise, we will unknowingly relinquish control of one of the most important decisions regarding our loved one’s care … care during the end of their life.)
Mom and Dad are wonderful, after all, they raised three kids. They sacrificed and went without only to provide everything we needed growing up. Mom has not been feeling well since Dad died and you wait with her to see the doctor. Finally he enters the room and says, I am truly sorry, there is nothing else I can do for your condition. I believe your time is getting close and we need to call hospice.
Your mom turns to look at you, your eyes meet and all of sudden you can’t breathe. You don’t know what to do. The doctor says not to worry, I will call them for you and get everything set up. The hospice nurse will come by your home. The nurse arrives and helps you with all the paperwork. She orders what is called a comfort pack to keep your mom symptom free. The nurse tells you not to worry about your moms other medication. She will not need it, she is going to die. You are instructed to give this medicine and call all of your family because it will be tonight.
The above scenario happens and does so too often. While your physician must make a referral to hospice and certify to Medicare, that in his opinion, someone has six months or less to live if the disease takes its normal course, it is just that, an opinion. The medical director of hospice chosen must also certify the person’s condition to be appropriate to meet the guidelines.
There are currently 5,800 different hospice companies in America and they are all different. This is a world driven by money, even hospice and death. Hospice has a marketing representative to let the physicians and hospitals know about their services so when a patient needs a hospice, they are readily available with the consent forms. Sadly, like the scenario above, they are not always there for the patient and family.
Education is vital to solve the problems in this world. I want you to know your rights on the specific subject of hospice care. You have a choice in the hospice selected. You have the right to question your doctor and the hospice. You have the right to take a pen and paper with you and write down or record your questions and their answers. You have a right to know what hospice is. Hospice is an entire team of people who will not only be there for your loved one, but your entire family.
Hospice is not a place, it is a philosophy of caring for the terminally ill individual at home, wherever home may be surrounded by family and friends, symptom free, for as long as possible. The hospice company you choose is not the boss, you are. The chosen hospice is there to help you and guide you with all the resources available at the most stressful time of you and your family’s life.
About the author
Ellen Jane Windham is an educated and skilled career professional with more than 15 years of practical hospice experience working in patients’ homes and facility environments. She is established in terminal ill-patient care including assessment, counseling and patient/family education.
In her new book, “Hospice: The Last Responder,” author Ellen Jane Windham offers patients and their families a comprehensive guide to all things hospice care. “Education is vital since hospice care is so often misunderstood,” Windham said. “This book will help you turn the fear and pain of losing someone into a memorable, and yes, even joyous event for family and friends to cherish and pass to each generation to follow.” Available in English and Spanish. ellenJWindham@outlook.com