If you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with a terminal illness such as cancer or heart failure and you’re going back and forth between home and on-going hospital admissions, it may be time to consider hospice. For some reason, it is not always presented as an option to hospital patients, but it can be what is needed to bring peace and calm to a chaotic situation.
As experts in end of life care, we want to be open, honest, and give you the information you need to determine if palliative care is right for you and your family. We also want to help you prepare to enter hospice within 24-hours because it can sometimes be necessary.
The most important two decisions you and your family will make is determining whether it’s safe for you to live at home, and who will provide care. These checklists will help you decide if it’s okay to go home and your family decide if they are able to support your decision:
Hospital Discharge Checklist for Patients:
- I’m able get home from the hospital without a wheelchair or a stretcher
- Someone will be at my home to help me get up the steps and into the house
- If I’m using oxygen in the hospital, I will be able to continue to use it on my own at home
- I can cook for myself and if not, I have someone who can cook for me, and clean up
- My home has a bedroom on the main level, or there is room for a hospital bed
- There is a bathroom on the main level of my home
- I have friends and family members who are willing and able to care for me
- I’m not concerned about needing help in the middle of the night
- I can afford to pay privately for in-home care, when I need it
Medicare will not pay for Private Duty In-Home Care, but because of the positive outcomes of hospice care, they continue to fund it, and private insurance companies have duplicated the benefit. This is a big switch from the past, when 210 days of hospice was the limit. Funding hospice has been found to be more cost effective and humane than going in and out of the hospital, and it’s available to you within 24-hours.
Hospital Discharge List for Family Caregivers:
- I’m willing to provide personal care for my parent/family member
- I’m willing to cook and serve daily meals, and clean up
- I’m able to dispense medication or provide medication reminders
- I can provide companionship, including being present for the evening meal
- I feel confident that I am aware and prepared to provide all necessary care
- I feel comfortable bathing and toileting my parent/family member
- My employer will provide the flexibility for me to come and go from my job, as needed
- I can afford to take a leave of absence from my job, if necessary
- My siblings will be available and willing to share responsibilities
If this list of responsibilities seems overwhelming to you, it’s okay to set limits and say
what you can and cannot do. As a loving and caring daughter or son, it’s natural to want to be there for your parent, but the reality is that it may not be best for them to have intermittent care for 45 min to an hour, when there are needs to be met around the clock. A good way to determine if you can handle the job is to do a trial run in the hospital or Transitional Care Unit. Tell the care team you want to be responsible for all cares for a period of a few hours to see if you can do it.
Sadly, sometimes when terminally ill people are released from the hospital, they feel they are going home to die, so they don’t focus on the time they have left to live. Living requires meeting basic human needs, and if you and your family feel you can’t meet them alone, hospice may be a good choice for you. You can enter a hospice residence like Our Lady of Peace, or an alternative care facility. Our community hospice program is available to people with a terminal disease and diagnosis of six months or less, and our residential hospice patients come to us for the final weeks of their lives.
For over 75 years, Our Lady of Peace has provided hospice care in our hospice residence and in the community, wherever home may be. We provide nursing, social work, spiritual care, massage, healing touch, and music therapy, wherever home is. We are Medicare certified and licensed by the State of Minnesota, so Medicare and most private insurance plans cover our services.
Our Lady of Peace works collaboratively with the people who provide support to you every day, from family members to assisted living and skilled nursing staff to your physician. Unlike most facilities who don’t provide nursing care after 5pm, our hospice nurses are available 24-hours a day. People ask us if they can keep their doctor. Absolutely! We will keep in touch with them by sending paper copies of care, and via phone, and they can be as much involved as you choose.
Often referred to as “midwives of the soul,” hospice nurses are called to serve patients with physical and spiritual end of life care, and they are honored to do it. We are blessed to have many families tell us they are glad they chose hospice because once they went through it, they realized they could not have provided the care themselves. It would be our privilege to serve you and your family.