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Hospice Qualifications: When To Consider Hospice Care

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When is it time to consider hospice? 

That’s a question we’re often asked as hospice providers. Deciding to enter hospice can be a very emotional and challenging time for patients and their loved ones. It can feel confusing and overwhelming — and you might be wondering whether or not hospice care is the right choice for your situation.

Understanding hospice qualifications and recognizing the signs can help you make this important decision with confidence and peace.

Understanding Hospice Qualifications

Hospice care is designed for patients facing a serious illness with a life expectancy of six months or less. During hospice, patients receive care that’s focused on their comfort and quality of life rather than curative treatment. Hospice care is provided as a benefit through most private insurances and Medicare.

But there’s more to the decision than the time frame. There are also physical, medical, emotional, and social indicators. Here are some of the signs that it might be time to explore hospice care. 

A Recommendation From a Medical Professional

Often, a healthcare provider is one of the first to suggest hospice care based on their assessment of a patient’s condition. Medical professionals use evaluation tools like the Palliative Performance Scale (PPS) to measure a patient’s ability to move and care for themselves. This can be an important aspect of determining hospice qualifications.

Physical and Medical Signs

As a patient’s physical health declines, they may benefit from quality-of-life care instead of curative treatment. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Has there been a noticeable decline in my loved one’s ability to perform daily activities?
  • How much assistance does the patient need to accomplish day-to-day tasks?
  • How often has my loved one been hospitalized (or visited the ER) in the past few months?
  • How well are the patient’s current treatments managing their pain or other symptoms?
  • Are there more curative treatments available, or have options been exhausted?
  • Has my loved one lost a significant amount of weight (or had a significant loss of appetite)? Over what period of time has this been happening?
  • Is the patient experiencing significant physical/cognitive decline? Are they able to communicate their needs?

If your loved one’s illness is progressing despite treatment, if they’re having increased difficulty caring for their physical needs, or if their pain or other distressing symptoms are becoming difficult to manage (even with aggressive treatment), they might meet hospice qualifications.

Emotional Signs

Hospice is about managing physical symptoms, but we also help ease the emotional and spiritual pain of our patients. Here are some of the emotional indicators that a person with a terminal illness might be ready to consider hospice:

  • Has the patient expressed a desire to stop aggressive treatments and focus on quality of life and comfort?
  • Are they experiencing increased anxiety, depression, or emotional distress?
  • What are their wishes and goals for their remaining time?

When a patient wants to focus on pain and symptom management instead of curative treatment, or if they have depression or emotional distress related to the progression of their disease, that could be a sign that hospice care is appropriate.

Social and Family Signs

The journey to hospice care is challenging for loved ones as well as patients. As a patient’s condition declines, they might need more support than a family caregiver is able to provide. Consider these questions:

  • Am I (or other caregivers) feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or unable to continue providing care?
  • Has the patient’s care needs exceeded their loved ones’ abilities/facilities?
  • Is the patient comfortable with their loved ones managing their personal care and hygiene needs? Or would assistance help maintain their dignity?
  • Do I have a sufficient support system to manage caring for my loved one?
  • Could I (or other loved ones) benefit from support services (like counseling, social services, or bereavement support)?

At Envision, we offer comprehensive support to help patients and families cope with the challenges of end-of-life care. We can help provide respite care, coordinate medical services, and offer 24/7 access to care. Depending on a patient’s needs and preferences, we can provide this care in the comfort of your own home, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. This holistic approach is meant to enhance the patient’s quality of life, provide effective pain and symptom management, and ease the burdens of caregiving. Hospice enables patients and loved ones to focus on what matters most.

Understanding Hospice Qualifications To Decide With Confidence

Choosing hospice care is about making sure a loved one gets comprehensive, compassionate support that respects their wishes and upholds their dignity during their final months. Here at Envision Hospice, our team is ready to provide the highest level of care, comfort, and support for patients and families — when the time is right.

Nurse caring for a patient who meets hospice qualifications.

If you recognize these signs in your loved one (or if you’re unsure about the next steps in exploring hospice), please reach out. We’re here to answer your questions, walk with you through the process, and support you during this time.

If you recognize these signs in your loved one or if you’re feeling uncertain about the next steps, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help guide you through the process, answer your questions, and provide the care and support your family needs during this time.

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