Hospice and Palliative Caregivers are There for Patients in Their Most Important Times of Need
Hospice and palliative are two forms of care that are often confused with each other or misunderstood altogether. While similarities exist, these forms of care are quite different from each other and require caretakers to address specialized responsibilities. On World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, we are going to explore these forms of care and show the different ways caregivers work within each discipline to provide patients with the best care possible.
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is designed to help people nearing the end of their lives to live in comfort in their final days. It allows people to close out their lives with dignity, purpose, and in as much comfort as possible. Hospice care also covers the patient’s family during and after the patient’s death.
This form of care is available in some assisted living facilities, nursing homes, select independent apartment communities, hospitals, and at home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over 4,000 facilities in the country that specifically offer hospice care.
How Palliative Care is Different
Referred to by some as “comfort care,” palliative care focuses on serious or life-threatening illnesses. While hospice provides end-of-life care, usually when the patient has six months or less to live, palliative care begins much sooner and can be administered at any age.
Palliative care is recommended for patients at any stage of a life-threatening or chronic illness. The intent is not to treat or cure patients’ disease but to ease symptoms and side effects they may experience while preparing for, undergoing, and recovering from treatment. Palliative care can also continue for patients once their treatments are over.
Why Hospice and Palliative Caregivers Matter So Much
In hospice and palliative care situations, patients often prepare for death while their families not only support them emotionally in their final days but also begin preparing for life without them. These facts make palliative and hospice situations an understandably stressful, confusing, sad, and frightening time for patients and their families.
This is where hospice caregivers and palliative workers really shine. Part medical provider, part spiritual guide, and part friend, these caregivers often wear many hats when guiding patients and their families through their darkest times. As patients are in their last stages of life, they often bond with their caregivers. They listen to patients’ needs and learn personal details about them that can improve their level of care. These moments can boost patients’ emotional state and improve their well-being as their final days approach. And with many palliative patients aware that they are close to dying, caregivers are present to ensure they are not alone.
In addition to overseeing patients’ physical needs like pain management, spiritual assistance, and psychosocial support, palliative and hospice caregivers also help meet their emotional, spiritual, practical, and social needs, all while helping them and their family plan for the future. A caregiver’s family care typically focuses on bereavement resources and emotional support. Not all family members of the patient will understand what their loved one is going through. They may not be educated about the patient’s condition or know how to provide support. A hospice worker provides family members with updates on the patient’s well-being and can suggest other care procedures.
As we observe World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, please be sure to appreciate and be thankful for the work caregivers provide patients and families in their times of need.