People who are in the last stages of life often require a large amount of care, often more than a family can provide. They may need aggressive pain management, extensive assistance with hygiene issues or they may have other needs not easily addressed at home. Hospice houses provide a high level of care in a home-like setting. Services are designed for people expected to live six months or less.
There are some significant aspects that hospice care focuses on. The number one concern is the comfort of the patient. Many people who use the services of hospice houses have serious conditions such as cancer, heart disease or kidney failure that may be accompanied by extreme pain, and hospice staff has many ways to help prevent suffering. In many cases this type of care, also referred to as palliative care, is able to use methods of pain control not available outside of the hospice environment.
Much of the time hospice care is provided in the patient’s home, with essential staff visiting frequently in order to assist both the patient and the family. Help with medications is provided, but trained hospice workers also provide assistance with securing such things as wheelchairs, hospital beds and commodes. For patients whose condition cannot be managed at home, hospice houses are often the next best thing.
This type of centralized hospice care typically has a full–time staff including nurses, counselors, therapists and nursing assistants. Patients are housed in rooms that appear very home-like, often painted and furnished in a very attractive manner. Many times patients are also able to bring decorative touches from home, such as special pictures, bedspreads and a small piece of furniture. The intent is to allow a patient the most comfort possible when the end of life is near.
From a financial standpoint, hospice houses provide benefits for patients and families, but there are also benefits for medical facilities and insurance companies. It costs much less to maintain patients in hospice houses than it does to have them in hospitals, and it frees hospital beds for those who can be helped. Much of the time the patient’s insurance coverage, either private insurance or a program such as Medicare, will pay the entire cost for hospice care, relieving the family of this financial burden.
Since hospice houses deal only with patients who have reached the end of their lives, no medical treatment is given beyond palliative care. This insures that the patient does not suffer, but also that no extraordinary means are used to prolong the life of a person in the final stages of a terminal illness. Instead, hospice houses offer a peaceful and dignified passing to their clients and comfort to those left behind.