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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Hospice is a program that provides care and services to people who are very ill or near the end of their life. It focuses on providing comfort and quality of life rather than treatments to prolong life. Hospice can reduce the pain, suffering, and stress that the person and his family may be feeling. Care is most often provided at a patient's home, but may also be provided in a hospice facility or hospital. Hospice services are available 24 hours a day, every day.
Follow up with hospice care providers as directed:
The following hospice care services may be recommended for the patient, family, friends, or caregivers:
- Physical care is given to help ease the patient's symptoms, such as pain. This may be done using medicines or certain therapies. Equipment, beds, or other medical supplies may be provided to help care for the person.
- Emotional and psychological care is provided to help the patient, his family, and those close to him cope with their feelings and emotions. Patients and families may join support groups or meet others in similar situations.
- Respite care provides family and caregivers a break from providing care.
- Social support helps patients and family members manage changes affecting their everyday life. Healthcare workers will arrange services to address financial concerns, relationship changes, and practical concerns such as meals.
- Spiritual and cultural care considers the person's and family's religious beliefs and cultural practices. These may include doing a special ceremony or ritual, or following certain traditions.
Help the patient complete advance directives:
Advance directives are legal documents that state the patient's wishes and plans for medical care. Advance directives can include living wills, medical directives, or do not resuscitate (DNR) orders. They may also include durable power of attorney for healthcare. Ask for more information about advance directives if you have questions.
Support the patient:
- Keep him company. Help the patient keep a positive yet realistic outlook. Be willing to listen to the patient if he wants to talk. Do things together such as watching television and reading books, or just stay with him. These may help him manage stress, and be relaxed and comfortable.
- Learn more about his condition. This can help you better understand what he is going through.
- Do not keep information from the patient. Many people want to be included in their treatment and care plan. Work with caregivers and others to help the patient understand his condition and make decisions about his care.
- Respect his feelings and need for privacy. Work together with people whom the patient can trust to help him cope with his feelings. Let him express fears and concerns. Reassure the patient that you will follow and honor his advance directives, such as living wills.
Contact the patient's healthcare provider if:
- The patient cannot or does not want to eat, drink, or take his medicine.
- The patient cannot make it to his next visit.
- The patient has new signs and symptoms since his last visit.
- You or the patient have questions or concerns about his condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- The patient feels like hurting himself or someone else.
- The patient feels pain that is not relieved by pain medicine.
- The patient feels that he cannot cope with his condition.
- The patient has problems sleeping.
- The patient has shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.