Hospice Care

What is Hospice?

The primary goals of hospice care are to promote comfort, safety, and self-direction by assisting in the alleviation of the patient’s physical pain, providing symptom control, and supporting the patient, caregivers, and physicians.

At CareFirst, symptom management is provided by a team of hospice professionals that consists of:

  • Physicians and Pharmacists who specialize in pain and symptom control
  • Registered Nurses who make regular visits to provide skilled care, health teaching and coordination of additional services.An on-call nurse is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Professional Health Care Consultants such as occupational, physical, respiratory, speech/audiology therapists and nutritionists
  • Home Health Aides who assist with hands-on care
  • Licensed Practical Nurses who provide personal care, and support the plan of care
  • Additional services such as delivery and set-up of medical equipment and covered supplies, oxygen therapies, trained volunteers, laboratory services
  • Medications needed to help alleviate pain and symptoms related to the patient’s hospice diagnosis are paid for (fully) by CareFirst, and our RNs collaborate with attending physician to assure that the proper medications for comfort are in the home

Hospice also works with the patient and family to alleviate the emotional stress that can be experienced during this difficult time. We provide:

  • Social workers who offer individual and/or family counseling, as well as supportive health teaching
  • Professionally facilitated support groups that are available to patients, family members and friends
  • Help with facilitating goals and providing patient advocacy

In addition, CareFirst can provide Spiritual Care counselors to help you and your family find ways to cope with your new circumstances. Our spiritual care consists of:

  •  Visits to the home, hospital or nursing home
  •  Deeper awareness of spiritual matters important to you
  •  Spiritual conversation and fellowship
  •  Stronger family relationships
  •  A safe environment to explore both positive and difficult emotions
  •  Opportunity to explore the meaning of life’s questions and accomplishments
  •  Prayers and/or blessings
  •  Books and other spiritual resources
  •  Liaison with clergy if requested
  •  Help in planning end of life rituals, funerals, memorials
  •  Practical tools and techniques suited to your specific needs

Please review our Frequently Asked Questions section for more information about the hospice care we offer at CareFirst.

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Making a Referral

Knowing when is the right time for a hospice referral can be hard to figure out. This may seem a difficult decision to come to, but the more you know about what we offer and what are the benefits of receiving good palliative care, it becomes obvious that having the support of hospice available to you and your family as soon as possible is vital.

Referrals for any of our services can come from any source, including families, doctors, hospitals, and patients themselves. We are more than ready to meet with you and answer your questions without any charge or obligation. If you want to pursue further services, we may need to talk to your doctor, but only with your permission.

What are the criteria for hospice admission?

Hospice comes in when the focus turns from treatment to comfort. The best way to determine this is to ask what the goal of care is. Are you willing to sacrifice how you are feeling today to be able to feel better tomorrow — like when you have surgery or get radiation treatment? Or are you most concerned with making today the best day possible? When the focus turns to relieving distressing symptoms, hospice may be the best care choice.

Some of the greatest confusion about hospice arises when figuring out when someone is medically eligible for care. The traditional idea of having a prognosis of six months or less is very difficult to determine and can give rise to further confusion — such as believing that services are available for just six months, which is not the case. Instead, we use guidelines for different diagnoses that clearly spell out who is eligible for our hospice services. We work closely with you and your doctor to make this determination.

Most importantly, think about getting care as early as possible. Study after study show that timely hospice intervention prolongs life, decreases symptoms, supports families, minimizes unwanted hospitalizations and saves money. The decision may seem easier once you have all the facts.