Jenni got the call that her aunt had been moved to hospice during her last few days in her battle with cancer. Even though it was an emotional time, Jenni was very impressed by the entire hospice experience. She saw that her aunt was well cared for, happy, and most importantly, surrounded by her loved ones. The hospice team was warm and professional and was even able to offer a listening ear and a comforting hug to Jenni.
The whole experience was much different than when Jenni’s own mother had passed away from cancer a few years before. “Why didn’t mom’s doctor ever mention hospice to us?” Jenni wondered.
Jenni isn’t alone in this question. After witnessing firsthand how hospice care can help someone spend their final days in peace, many people wonder why their loved one’s doctor never brought up hospice to them.
In the best-case scenario, physicians and hospice work together as a team to provide the best possible care to patients. But sometimes physicians are hesitant to talk about hospice. Here are some of the most common reasons why.
For some doctors, the thought of contacting hospice is the same as “giving up.” Unfortunately, this myth can keep patients from receiving the kinds of treatments that can help them live full lives. A doctor works relentlessly to help their patients receive the care they need to stay healthy, and when a family decides that they’re ready to shift the focus from curative treatments to quality-of-life treatments, hospice care professionals work just as relentlessly to ease pain and offer hope. `
Some people think that hospice and health care providers have different goals for patients, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Hospice and healthcare are on the same side; they both strive to help minimize suffering and maximize quality of life. Health care and hospice professionals each use different resources, but both are reaching for the same goal — patient happiness.
For other doctors, the hesitancy to bring up hospice is not because they don’t see its value, but simply because they don’t want to overwhelm the patient or family. End-of-life challenges can be emotionally exhausting, and doctors don’t want to add anything that’s not helpful onto the load.
Other times, a doctor can be so focused on curative treatments that they don’t take the time to stop and consider other options.
In many cases, when a family member brings up hospice care to a doctor, the doctor is more than happy to explore the options available. Sometimes she is waiting for you to take the initiative and start the conversation.
Lack of knowledge
Sometimes the doctor’s own personal preferences influence the decision to bring up hospice care. Depending on the era and medical school culture she was taught in, plenty of myths were circulated, or she may have had little exposure to the process.
Hospice care is held to high standards, and treatments have improved in huge ways over the years. We not only provide traditional pain relief, but we also provide comfort measures like massage, aromatherapy, and spiritual counseling to patients and families. If a physician doesn’t stay up to date with the quality and procedures of hospice care, they may be misinformed.
There are plenty of logistical reasons why hospice care may not be an option for every patient. For some, their illness or condition declines too rapidly for hospice care. Other families wait too long before pursuing hospice care. While our approval process is very efficient, it does take time for insurance to be contacted.
The type of doctor involved also is a factor. Specialists are more likely to recommend hospice than a primary care physician. If your loved one is in the hospital, they may not be seeing a physician who is familiar with hospice.
Start the conversation today
No matter what the reason is behind the doctor’s hesitance to talk about hospice, all it takes is one conversation to begin discussing if hospice is right for your situation. As long as you qualify for hospice, the final decision is always up to you.
While many of our referrals do come from physicians, anyone is welcome to take the first step in starting the hospice process. If you need help starting the conversation, contact us today. We’ll explain the entire process to you, and our team can even help you get a referral from your physician.
We’re passionate about helping people understand the facts about hospice so that those with a life-limiting illness can experience the care and dignity they deserve.
Ready to find out more? Contact us today at 915-778-0028.