What difference does early admission make?
Early admission to hospice usually means a higher quality of remaining life for the patient. It also means more support, less stress, and, in many cases, financial relief for the family.
- Hospice emphasizes pain and symptom management. People who are comfortable can continue to enjoy family, friends, and living in general.
- Hospice supports the family, too. Early admission provides the family more support during a loved one's illness. Hospice helps prevent caregiver exhaustion.
- Cost is never an issue. Many families find that hospice saves them money because hospice pays for needed equipment, drugs, and professional services.
- Massage, art and music therapy, volunteer visits, and life histories are among the special hospice services that patients and families appreciate earlier rather than later in the illness.
- Family members who love each other can still have conflicts. Given time, hospice professionals may help families work through difficulties.
- Early admission allows hospice to provide calm transition rather than "crisis management".
- There is no maximum number of days for hospice care. While a prognosis of six months is required for hospice eligibility, patients often live longer than this and continue to enjoy hospice care.
- If a patient's condition improves, as sometimes happens, s/he can be discharged and readmitted later if his/her health declines again.
What can hospice team do for people who are admitted early?
- Your nurse and social worker can get to know you and the people you care about and develop trusting relationships with you and those providing your care.
- Your nurse has time to adjust your medications and be sure that you're comfortable and that your pain is under control. Our nurses are experts in pain and symptom control, but need time to fine-tune medication amounts and dosage schedules to maximize comfort and symptom relief.
- Your social worker has time to help you complete whatever tasks you need to complete, whether it's to make one more trip to the coast or to find a way to reconcile with a family member.
- A chaplain may make a visit and talk with you about what's on your mind as you face the end of life's journey, whether you describe yourself as religious or not.
- A hospice aide can help with personal care and light housekeeping tasks
- A massage therapist has time to ease your aches and pains.
- A volunteer can come and give caregivers a bit of a break. Volunteers also can record your life history, take you fishing, or bring a therapy dog for a visit.
- Early referrals allow your hospice team to avoid crises not just manage them.
Too often, we hear family members say they wish their loved one had been admitted sooner. We understand that there are a variety of reasons why a person might hesitate. But when you know that hospice is about hope, about honoring patients' choices about how they want to live their final days, about providing comfort and managing pain and symptoms associated with an illness, it makes sense to take advantage of the services hospice offers at the earliest appropriate time.