Once the decision to enter hospice has been made and the paperwork is signed, the hospice team will develop a care plan tailored the patient's needs.
In the first week or so, members of the care team will schedule regular visits. How often they visit will change as needs change.
Nurses come once or twice a week—more often, if necessary—to monitor any pain or other symptoms. The nurse will consult with the primary care provider about any needed medication changes and keep him informed on any changes in condition. The nurse will also provide guidance on what to expect as the illness progresses and will answer any questions.
The social worker will visit once or twice a month. Like the nurse, the social worker adjusts frequency of visits to needs and wishes of the patient.
While hospice staff and volunteers are not with the patient every minute of the day, they do help the family and friends develop a plan to ensure the patient's safety and comfort. Hospice supplements the care already provided by family, friends, and paid caregivers. Hospice is not a substitute for care already provided by family, friends, and paid caregivers; rather, hospice supplements and supports that care.
A nurse is always just a phone call away. Benton Hospice provides an on-call nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week who can assist patients and families after hours and on weekends with questions and changes that occur. If the questions or problems cannot be resolved over the phone, then the nurse will make a home visit.
Patients keep their own doctor throughout their hospice experience. Physicians are regularly updated and consulted by the hospice team. Other members of the care team will visit from time to time, too, depending on what help is needed or desired.
Needs and wants may change over time, and hospice team members will adjust their visits to accommodate those changes.