The underlying premise behind Hospice care is to focus on the quality of care to patients who present with a life-limiting illness who are not expected to live more than six months instead of seeking treatment the prolong the illness or seek a medical cure. Hospice focuses on the entire person, as well as supporting the family by combining all elements of physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. The provision of hospice care can take place in an acute care setting; however, generally, the patients are cared for in a private residence or another residential living facility.
Candidates of Hospice:
The ideal candidates for hospice are patients who are nearing their final weeks to months of their life and want to focus on comfort measures rather than life-prolonging treatments. Physicians should give strong consideration in making a hospice referral when patients who are chronically ill present with a decreased functional status, spend more than half their time in bed or a chair, and exhibit physical and psychological distress. A referral is paramount when there is a progressive decline in the patient's condition; their highest priority is to feel more in control and remain at home with support to keep comfortable.
Qualifying for Hospice Benefits:
Patients over 65 years of age or individuals younger than 65 years with a long-term disability will receive coverage through Medicare Part A benefits. If a patient is ineligible for Medicare hospice, benefit coverage will vary depending on the individual's health insurance coverage.
Currently, Medicare has four major qualification criteria to cover hospice services:
When a patient has a terminal condition, Medicare will provide hospice care, which includes comprehensive services related to a terminal condition. The array of benefits may include:
Hospice provides patients with many benefits. Some of the benefits of hospice our: a 24-hour on-call nurse, increased availability to health care professionals, and reduce to no cost for durable medical equipment and medications to increase comfort. Additionally, patients who choose to die at home with hospice care exhibited the improved quality of life for both the patients and their family members. Once a patient and their family have acknowledged the seriousness and life-limiting nature of the underlying disease, discussions of hospice as a care option should commence. Patients who have a prognosis of six months or less should be urged to enroll in hospice care so the family and patient can focus on improving their symptoms and increasing their comfort.
Unfortunately, acceding to hospice care is a difficult choice; once the patient and their family members accept the condition is a terminal illness, hospice care may be the best option. Hospice care provides the necessary support and cares to optimize the overall end of life patient and family experience when medications and treatments will no longer improve the patient’s condition.
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