Hospice care has become an integral part of the healthcare sector during and both the phases post-pandemic. It has contributed greatly towards symptom control, psychological support, and supporting triage & decision-making complexities.
But before we dive into the increasing adaptability of the hospice system in the second phase of the pandemic, let us discuss what exactly is hospice healthcare and its importance.
What is meant by the hospice care system?
Hospice healthcare refers to the care offered by a team following an approach and that consists of physical, emotional, practical, and spiritual support. Hospice care prioritizes both the patient and their family. The main objective is to ensure that the goals for the life of the patient is met successfully.
Where is hospice care provided?
Hospice care can happen at specific places like the home of the patient, nursing home or at the hospital. Mostly, it is provided at home where the family members are available to take care of the patient as the primary caregiver. The patient will parallel receive support from the hospice care team along with home health aides. At the nursing home or the hospital, the hospice care staff also offers optimum support to the patients and their families.
What is the main objective of the hospice system?
The main focus of the hospice care team is helping the patients to be as comfortable as possible. They provide special attention to symptom management and pain control, which would allow the patient to be as alert and involved in life as possible.
The patients who enroll for hospice care, their outlook for survival must be limited. The medical treatment of the patient must aim at relieving discomfort rather than curing the patient’s illness. Usually, the hospice team includes a doctor, nurse, social worker, and rabbi/chaplain.
The entire hospice care staff offers many services including medical management, practical assistance and emotional support. These services are customized to the needs and wishes of the patient.
How does the hospice care system help?
The hospice system can help in the below ways:
- Hospice is a medicare benefit, so it will be free if you qualify for it. It also works with the family as well as the patient.
- Hospice system provides patients with choices about how and where they want to spend the rest of their lives. The main goal of pain control and symptom management is to provide as high a level of comfort, while still maintaining alertness.
- The objective of the hospice system is to achieve physical and emotional comfort with the medical treatment so that patients and family can enjoy living life.
- Patients encouraged to stay active and enjoy what they love. Whenever possible, the patient can be cared for in the home with loved ones and a familiar environment.
- You will receive help from the hospice care team 24×7 via phone. The members of the hospice team make home visits.
- When the patient passes away, a social worker or rabbi/chaplain is available to help family and friends cope with the loss.
Who are the members of a hospice team?
The hospice staff includes specially trained people who have experience working with patients and families. The team helps the patient and their family to be as comfortable as possible. The team comprises hospice doctors, nurses and/or social workers. The patients, families and friends also considered main people as a part of the team, and it respects all cultural values and traditions.
Eligibility criteria for hospice care
Those patients whose prognosis is about six months or less, verified by the hospice doctor are eligible for hospice care. The patients who are no longer getting treatment that can cure the disease but who want to live comfortably. Hospice teams work with the families of the patients who are unaware about their prognosis.
Rising Importance of Hospice System Post Pandemic Phases
Delivering adequate care at end-of-life under surge conditions will require innovative actions including changes that might be unacceptable under usual conditions. In the second phase of pandemic circumstances, in a surge environment –
- The patient’s verbal requests for designation of health care agents and e-signatures for just-in-time advance directives should be recognized as legally equivalent to traditional written advance directive documents.
- The drugs necessary for hospice care should be equitably available across all communities where people are in pain, which could entail diverting supplies from acute care settings to those offering comfort-focused care and to historically disenfranchised communities.
- Expanding the hospice care team requires on-demand training as well as relaxation of staffing and licensure standards. Under extreme conditions, this might entail allowing family members to give care that is generally reserved for licensed professionals.
- Hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities must reduce the risk of patients dying alone in isolation by loosening overly restrictive visitation policies for dying patients, providing adequate personal protective equipment for their visitors, and checking tools for virtual visits.
- The patients and their families allowed to undertake reasonable risks of visitation with suffering loved ones, with the understanding that this exposure could result in potential illness among visitors.
Note: The importance of providing end-of-life care post-COVID-19 pandemic should also inform future medical training. Some doctors are comfortable with eliciting goals of care and providing care that prioritizes palliation. But these skills are not based on traditional medical training and do not come naturally. Also, comprehensive hospice care needs the expertise of interdisciplinary teams, and a focus on medical training.
The hospice care approach to post-pandemic phases surges planning requires identifying and addressing threats of the community. Including patients whose primary goals are symptom relief and comfort at the end of life. This call to action greatly ignored in the first wave of the pandemic, but it is more real now than ever during ongoing threats of overwhelming local and regional surges in demand for hospice care systems.
About Net Health
Net Health provides software and analytics for specialty medical providers across the continuum of care. Net Health’s interoperable solutions ensure compliance, improve outcomes, empower providers and inspire care. The company serves over 14,000 facilities, including 98 percent of the largest hospital chains. And two-thirds of skilled nursing facilities and many leading hospice organizations and private practices. Net Health is a portfolio company of The Carlyle Group, Level Equity and Silversmith Capital Partners.