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Hospice Care: What to Expect When Your Loved One is at Home
By Jennifer Malko

A main concern for most people faced with terminal illness is whether they’ll be able to die wherever they call “home.” Hospice care helps eliminate that worry, making it possible for people to spend their final moments of life in their preferred surroundings.

Below are some important questions and answers about in-home hospice care:

  • How will pain be managed? Hospice is an end-of-life care option tailored to the needs of each patient and family. It includes expert pain management while providing emotional and spiritual support. The care is provided by interdisciplinary teams of palliative care experts, including physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, bereavement specialists and volunteers.
  • What kind of assistance and in-home care is available to patients? Routine home care is available in accordance to the patient’s individualized plan of care. Continuous care, during a brief period of crisis, can be available for up to 24 hours a day. When there are questions or concerns after business hours, families can often get immediate answers and help by calling an after-hours service.
  • What role can family members have in patient care? Family members play an important role by providing personal care when hospice teams are not present. The hospice team does not “take over,” rather they teach and support families so they can provide the best in-home care possible.
  • What kind of spiritual and emotional support do patients and families receive? Many psychological, spiritual and emotional aspects of end-of-life experiences can be very difficult for patients and their families. For that reason, hospice social workers and chaplains have extensive training and experience in psychosocial counseling, spiritual awareness, end-of-life issues and bereavement.
  • What does hospice care cost? Medicare pays for hospice services. Many states have established Medicaid coverage for hospice, and almost all private insurers and managed care plans provide coverage for hospice care as well.

Jennifer Malko is Director of Market Development, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care of Pittsburgh. For more information, contact VITAS of Pittsburgh at (412) 799-2101 or visit www.VITAS.com.

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