December 1, 2008

Choosing Hospice

As many of you know, I work for a hospice company. When I took this job, I received alot of negative feed back. Not because of hospice itself but because most people think its a very depressing job. For those of you that don't know or understand what it is, I will explain it to you. Hospice is a program that provides palliative care and attends to the emotional and spiritual needs of terminally ill patients at an inpatient facility or at the patient's home. The patients general have 6 months or less to live. When you decide that hospice is what you or your loved one needs, you also have to agree to no further aggressive treatment. Which means, if you have cancer you agree to no chemotherapy. We focus on comfort measures during the last stage of a persons disease. Our company also has social workers that help the families apply for food programs, get vouchers from utility companies, and help families plan funerals. It takes a special kind of person to do this.

Many people feel that by choosing hospice, they have given up. That isn't necessarily the case. We have had people discharge off of hospice and decide that further aggressive treatment would be a better option. However, in order to qualify for our programs, a physician makes the determination that the person is terminally ill and would not benefit from aggressive treatment. Physicians aren't God though. All they can do is speculate, miracles happen every day. Our staff is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Considering I spent 15 years working for hospitals and medical groups trying to cure the sick, this was a completely different avenue to take. It has completely changed my aspect of the service in general. I started this job the same week my father died. How is that for timing? They were the most understanding people I could have hoped for. Not only was I paid for bereavement, but I got comfort from all the staff, including the Chaplin. I want people to know that hospice isn't a bad thing. They provide pain relief and try to make your last days on earth as comfortable as possible. It isn't for everyone but don't count it out completely because of the title. Hospice companies are available all over the world. If you have questions, don't be afraid to ask. They understand your concerns and are there to help.

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