What does hospice do, and when should you call it in? | Chicago Estate Planning Attorney Anthony B. Ferraro

Hospice delivers a wide range of care and support for individuals with terminal illness; it also serves these individuals’ family members. Hospice is a holistic approach to pain and symptom management through physical, emotional and spiritual means.

The main focus of hospice is to keep levels of dignity and quality of life as high as possible throughout the end of life. Caring measures are not meant to cure a person. Instead, it is palliative care that is intended to relieve or reduce discomfort.

A physician can call in hospice once he or she determines a patient has six months or less to live. Hospice will go wherever the person is — to a long-term care facility, home, etc. Some long-term care facilities have their own hospice programs and should be considered.

A standard plan of care typically stops once hospice is called in. Treatments such as radiation would cease, for example, and palliative care would take over. A hospice team would then create a new care plan. The patient’s physician coordinates care with hospice.

A hospice team generally consists of a social worker, chaplain, certified nursing assistants, registered nurse and a medical director. Some hospice agencies deliver bereavement care to family members for several months after a loved one’s death. Hospice is a wonderful service and is highly recommended for your ones’ care, should it ever be needed.