Our homes work with several top-notch Hospice companies. One of our favorites is Hospice of the West. The Chief Administrative Officer for Hospice of the West was gracious enough to write a blog post explaining some common misconceptions people have of Hospice.
The importance of hospice can be challenging to describe unless one has experienced this compassionate and comprehensive model of care. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about hospice, including the philosophy of care and services. Not all healthcare providers are educated on having the hospice conversation. A primary goal for hospice is to debunk common myths and to guide others in having an open, honest, healthy discussion on what hospice is.
One of the Biggest Hospice Myths
An example of a common myth is hospice means giving up hope. The truth is that deciding to receive hospice services does not mean giving up hope. Hospice is about redefining the patient’s goals. The hope may have switched from curing the illness to the hope of living life to its fullest when one has a life-limiting illness. Once a patient is receiving hospice services they sometimes will feel a greater sense of overall well-being. From being involved in the day-to-day decisions of their plan of care, to relief from pain and other symptoms, to having the support for themselves and their families, patients are able to live lives of a higher quality.
Other common hospice myths include:
Hospice is a place.
Fact: Hospice is a philosophy, a state of mind and an interdisciplinary approach to end-of-life care. Hospice is tailored to care for the patients wherever they call home.
A patient must be a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) in order to be on Hospice.
Fact: Some hospices require their patients to be a DNR in order to elect their hospice benefit, Hospice of the West does not require their patients to sign a DNR prior to electing their benefit. The decision to be a DNR is a part of the expected journey for patients. Hospice of the West provides education, emotional support and reassurance to patient as they work towards understanding and accepting the option to be a DNR
Physicians are the only ones who can refer a patient for hospice services.
Fact: Hospice is an elected benefit and anyone who wishes can self-refer. It is not necessary to have a physician refer an individual for an evaluation. Hospice of the West is able to work with the patient’s physician if it is decided that they are eligible for hospice services, and choose to receive services, or one of our Medical Directors can oversee the patient’s care if they do not have a primary physician.
Once a patient elect hospice services, they cannot go back to seeking aggressive treatment.
Fact: The hospice philosophy is one that seeks comfort care (symptom management) vs. curative treatment. Should a patient decide that they would like to go back to seeking aggressive, curative care, they may revoke their hospice benefit. Should the patient want to return to hospice care in the future, they have the option of being readmitted and receiving services again.
Rhea Go-Coloma, Licensed Medical Social Worker (LMSW) and Certified Master Forensic Social Worker (CMFSW) is the Chief Administrative Officer for Hospice of the West. She is certified in gerontology and is a current Doctoral student. She has served the community as a caregiver, grant writer, educator, volunteer, social worker and hospice manager.