Hospice is a Blessing? I want to tell a story and have you decide.
I have been a Registered Nurse for 23 years and before that worked in Healthcare for 4 years while in School. In my 27 years in Healthcare, I have worked as a Nursing Assistant, Staff Nurse, and Managemet Level jobs in both Home Health and Hospice. I have seen many patients, many circiumstances, many triumps and tragedies over the past 27 years. While I have always enjoyed every aspect of Nursing, Hospice is my passion and I want to educate others so they can make informed decisions in Healthcare at the End of Life.
Over the years, I have heard many views both for and against Hospice. My personal experiences both as a nurse and a family member of a Hospice patient have been very positive.
First let me set the stage. What is Hospice? What are the Myths about Hospice? Who pays for Hospice?
Hospice is a Medicare Benefit as well as a Benefit in many Private Insurance policies. The purpose of Hospice is to work with Patients AND THEIR FAMILY in the End Stages of life. The Medicare Benifit states the eligibility of Hospice is a patient who has a diagnosis of 6 months or less to live if the disease follows it’s normal course. Most are surprised to find out Hospice is not limited to patients with Cancer. Hospice also includies patients in the End Stages of Congestive Heart Failure, Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia, End Stage Liver, Lung and Kidney Disease. Hospice patients can be cared for in their own Home or in a Hospice Faciity, Nursing Home or Hospital. Medicare pays 100% of the for the Hospice benifit.
Myths exist about Hospice and some decline Hospice because they mis-understand the intent. Countless family Members have told me they don’t want Hospice because that means there is only a few days left. While sometimes this is true due to a late referral to Hospice, it is not true most of the time. Hospice Teams work
together with the patient and their family in a group that includes, Nurses, Chaplains, Social Workers and Home Care Aides/Nursing Assitants. The Hospice Team helps the family with financial, spiritual, physical and emotional
needs. More importantly, the team assists with a dignified, comfortable death.
My Grandmother was a Hospice patient. I wrote the following poem after reflecting on the experience with my grandmother. It sums up my experience and in my eyes, the essence of Hospice Care and Comfortable Dying.
An even more simple summary of Hospice to me is: A BLESSING.
After the poem is a link to a Medicare-Published document that completly explains the benefit. I will also be happy to answer any questions or direct you to a source to get answers.
A Final Gift
My grandmother held my hand when I was a baby.
She held my hand as we sat in church when I was a child.
She held my hand as I disembarked from the school bus for the first time.
She held my hand when I made my first cookies.
She held my hand while I studied for college exams.
She held my hand when I told her I was getting married.
She held my hand as I held my first newborn child.
I held my grandmother’s hand when my grandfather died.
I held her hand after she fell.
I held her hand when she was sick.
I held her hand when she couldn’t speak.
And…. I held her hand as she died with my father at her side.
It was my final gift to her.
And… her final gift to me.
Information about the Medicare Hospice Benefit can be found at the following link: