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The Care You Need ... The Support You Deserve
By LuAnn Onufer, RN, BSN

The word hospice often elicits negative thoughts of suffering and pain. Hospice is really about living. It is about living comfortably, making choices and feeling supported by the hospice team. The hospice team can visit the individual wherever they call home. Individuals who choose to be in their own home or the home of a loved one may worry about what is available to them through hospice. Hospice nurses are available to work with the individual's physician and the hospice Medical Director to manage any pain or symptoms associated with their illness. Medications are chosen for effectiveness and to assure they are easy to administer in a home setting. Hospice uses specialty pharmacies to compound special medications and to be part of the symptom management team. There are hospice aides available to help with personal care and socialization. The hospice chaplain can help connect the individual with their parish, minister, Rabbi or other spiritual support, or just make a friendly visit to lend an ear. The hospice social worker can visit to support both family and patient. The hospice social worker can help the patient and family communicate their desires and fears to each other, help them mend relationships and even help with putting end of life wishes in writing such as a Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney. The hospice team can also guide the individual and their family to community resources for additional help and services. Hospice pays for medications, supplies and equipment related to the hospice diagnosis. Those items are delivered to the individual's home at no cost to the individual. Hospice is there to address the physical, spiritual, financial and psychosocial needs of the individual, their family and caregivers. This combination is what makes hospice such a unique program. Any individual who has Medicare part A has hospice coverage at no cost to them. Other insurances and Medicaid also cover hospice. A frequent comment by family members of hospice patients is, "I wish we would have had hospice sooner."

LuAnn Onufer is Director of Compliance, Gateway Hospice. For more information, call 1-877-878-2244 or visit www.gatewayhospice.com.

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