Why Your Loved One Should Receive Hospice Care Sooner
Sep 30, 2020 by Danielle Andersen
Caring for a loved one with a terminal illness is an overwhelming and difficult endeavor that can and should include hospice care. Unfortunately, choosing to receive end of life care can make you feel as if you’re casting your loved one aside or giving up. However, the focus of hospice is truly to improve your loved one’s quality of life in their remaining days, weeks and months of life so they can enjoy the time they have left.
At Knute Nelson, hospice is all about empowering life. Managing your loved one’s pain and symptoms are only one component of hospice care. The others focus on helping them reach their end-of-life goals and providing them with the emotional and spiritual care they need to find peace and comfort.. Sadly, though, many people wait too long to receive hospice services. To experience the transformational benefits of hospice care, it’s important that your loved one receives care sooner rather than later.
When Should My Loved One Start Hospice Care?
A common misconception about hospice care is that it’s only for individuals who have a few days to live. In fact, hospice care is for anyone who has a life expectancy of six months or less.
According to Trella Health, the average length of stay for patients in hospice care in the United States was 77.9 days in 2018, suggesting that more people are seeing the benefits of seeking hospice sooner. Still, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that the top complaint from families is that they wished their loved one would’ve received hospice care sooner.
Hospice is typically covered by Medicaid, Medicare, Veterans' benefits and almost all private insurance policies (no patient is denied care based on inability to pay or coverage status). If your loved one has a life expectancy of six months or less, they are eligible for hospice. It covers everything related to your loved one's terminal illness, such as medications for comfort, a hospital bed, medical equipment for mobility and visits by hospice staff. The sooner your loved one enters hospice, the sooner they will receive extra care and compassion from our hospice team.
The Benefits of Getting Hospice Care Sooner at Knute Nelson
Early Admission Improves Quality of Life
One of the key benefits of your loved one receiving hospice sooner is that their care is much more focused on them, as a person, rather than simply managing symptoms and pain. According to KaLee Mohrman, Director of Hospice at Knute Nelson, her team’s focus is really on the quality of life of their hospice care patients.
“It’s true, hospice is your last journey in life,” KaLee said. “However, a patient being referred to hospice has a terminal illness. They’re going to have that terminal illness regardless if they’re on hospice or not. So, that early admission to hospice is so important because that allows us to focus on the wellbeing and the whole patient.”
With that early admittance, your loved one will have access to our entire hospice team, including our medical director, skilled registered nurses, home health aides, spiritual care team and social services team.
They’ll also be able to enjoy our ancillary services that include:
- Volunteers: We match volunteers to your loved one’s specific interests and hobbies. These volunteers can play games and watch movies with your loved one, keep them company, run errands, prepare meals and even aid with household chores.
- Massage Therapy: Our massage therapists use gentle, intentional touch to decrease physical and emotional distress. Massage therapy can help relax your loved one’s muscles, reduce any pain and swelling they’re experiencing and improve their mood.
- Aromatherapy: Our nurses are trained to use therapeutic grade essential oils like lavender and peppermint to relieve symptoms such as pain, nausea, anxiety and low mood.
- Therapeutic Music: Our Board-Certified Music Practitioner can evaluate your loved one’s needs and use songwriting, singing, instrument playing and music listening to promote physical, spiritual and emotional well-being.
- Healing Touch (Reiki): Healing Touch practitioners and Reiki Masters will lay their hands on or near your loved one to move and transfer energy to reduce stress, anxiety and pain and promote healing.
If your loved one is in need of physical, occupational or speech therapy, our hospice team will put in a referral and our therapy team will do a consult with your loved one. Our therapists will provide recommended exercises or activities based on their assessment, then our hospice team will guide your loved one through these activities to improve their quality of life.
Early Admission Means More Personalized Family Support
Earlier admission into hospice care at Knute Nelson also means our team is able to get to know both your loved one and your family.
“A lot of times there’s a lot of physical, spiritual, mental and emotional pain that they are all going through,” KaLee explained. “The earlier admission allows us to get to know the patient and their family and help them through that process.”
We know how overwhelming this process is for your family and we are here to help you every step of the way. We’ll walk you through the process of your loved one’s disease and help them prepare for the next steps so the experience is as comfortable as possible.
Once your loved one passes away, our hospice care team will still be there for your family. We provide care and support through our bereavement program for the first 13 months after your loved one passes away and also offer celebrations of life. These celebrations give the families opportunities to honor their loved one, share stories, listen to their loved one’s favorite music or participate in other activities their loved one enjoyed.
“We’re in such a strange time where funeral services aren’t necessarily being allowed, where families can’t gather in churches, or whatever that may be to celebrate the life of their loved one,” KaLee explained. “Or, if someone’s not affiliated with a church or a pastor, our team has stepped up and provided that celebration of life for the patient and their family after the patient has passed away.”
Improved Monitoring of Your Loved One’s Health
At Knute Nelson, we aim to be as innovative as we can to better service our patients. This includes our partnership with Muse Healthcare, which provides us with analytics that allow us to monitor patients’ conditions more closely and increase care when needed.
“This program really focuses on how we can provide better quality care for patients,” KaLee said. “It helps us to determine when the patient is becoming terminally ill or imminent to focus on increased care during the last seven days of their life.”
Innovative solutions like these mean we can give both your loved one and your family even higher quality of care and peace of mind during this emotional time.
Compassionate Hospice Care that Takes Care of Your Family
At Knute Nelson, our team can surround your loved one and family with care and support. It’s our mission to provide seamless communication about your loved one’s condition, coordinate care as often as needed and ensure your family’s needs are addressed as quickly as possible.
To learn more about our empowering hospice care and how to get your loved one the support they need, please contact us today.