Hospice Care in Facilities

What to Know and When to Consider it

The term "hospice" for some people can have a negative connotation due to its association with a person's end of life. However, hospice services like Agapé Hospice in South Carolina want to change the way people think about this important service. Hospice is comfort-focused care that is concerned with the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state of the patient and their loved ones. Hospice clinicians strive to bring balance to each of these areas of life through pain and symptom management, education, counseling, and grief support.

What Agapé Hospice Really Provides

Hospice is not a place; it is a philosophy of care. Where hospice care is provided is determined by what is most appropriate for the patient. Most hospice care is provided in the patient’s home, but it can also be provided in an assisted living community or skilled nursing facility if that is where the patient resides. Services include a wide range of care for people with different medical conditions. No matter the condition of the patient, hospice provides a level of care custom-tailored to his or her needs. 

When a patient with a life-limiting illness chooses to transition from diagnostic and aggressive treatments to hospice care, their primary doctor or medical provider will need to write an order to start hospice services. Hospice care focuses on keeping the patient comfortable by managing pain and symptoms of the disease process. The patient’s needs are attended to by a hospice team of professionals who include a medical director, nurses, social workers, chaplains and volunteers. The family is relieved of the sole burden of care and is now able to spend more quality time just being with their loved one. 

What is General Inpatient Hospice Care?

When a patient’s symptom management requires greater medical care than can be provided at home, short-term, high-quality hospice care can be provided at our inpatient hospice houses or our partner care locations throughout the state. Typically, patients will only stay a few days for focused care which enables them to return to their home or regular care setting after the acute episode is under control.

Who Qualifies for Hospice

Generally, a person is eligible for hospice once their health begins declining, and they only have a remaining life expectancy of six months or less. Hospice is covered by Medicare and most private insurance, and there are specific guidelines that determine a patient’s eligibility. 

What Should a Family Know About Hospice?

Hospice doesn't replace care provided by a caregiver at a facility such as a skilled nursing facility. Hospice care is in addition to the care already being provided. The hospice company will have a contractual agreement with the skilled facility to provide hospice care to their eligible patients.The hospice caregiver, in most cases, will visit the patient a few times every week. Hospice medical personnel can help prescribe measures and work with regular staff members to keep the patient as comfortable as possible. Hospice is meant to be a coordinated care plan, not the main or only source of care.

What Role Does Family Play in Hospice?

Patients and their families play active roles in developing a care plan with the hospice team. The hospice team will discuss all care options available, and the family and patient ultimately decide the level of care which best meets their needs. In addition to the direct patient care, hospice provides counseling, education and support for the family, which is an invaluable component of the service. 

What are the Benefits of Hospice?

Hospice improves a patient's quality of life by decreasing the need for emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Hospice reduces pain, anxiety and depression through the combination of medications and care designed to treat the patient as a whole person rather than just focusing on a disease. A patient on hospice will no longer be subjected to aggressive treatment plans by doctors or hospitals attempting a curative approach for the disease. The new focus for patients will be about the quality of their remaining life.

How Do You Identify if a Loved One Needs Hospice?

A decline in cognitive function and awareness and a decline in self-sufficiency are signs. Unintentional weight changes, medications which no longer address a person’s pain and multiple recent hospitalizations are indications as well.

I want to start by saying Thank You from the bottom of my heart. I have worked with Agape since 2011 and been in hospice since 2005. All of these years did not prepare me to be a family member. I cannot say enough amazing things about our staff. They made this very surprising and short process a beautiful one that was full of love, comfort, and compassion. I want to say thank you to each and every one of you. Thank you for sharing this moment with me and my family. 

Ashley Russell-Gause, CHC, Agapé Hospice Employee