“I wish we’d called you sooner.” This is something we hear often from patients and their loved ones. Once a doctor has certified that, a patient has six months or less to live, the patient is eligible to go on hospice, but all too often, our hospice team is not called in until the last few days of the patient’s life. Our nurses, social workers, aides and other professionals do all they can to make those last moments as comfortable as possible—but there is so much more they can do if they have more time to get to know the patient and family members.
The longer the team works with a patient the more they are able to respond to that person’s unique situation and medical needs. Here are some of the benefits of choosing hospice sooner:
- As patients and family members work with the Hospice team, they become more comfortable sharing their end-of-life journey and discussing their care needs. This rapport can help in the building of an optimal care plan based on the patient’s and family’s wishes.
- Pain and symptoms can be controlled better. Our hospice team members are specially trained in the treatment of pain and discomfort. That includes the mental and emotional distress that can come at the end of life. Pain and symptoms are addressed sooner and crises can be avoided.
- Stressful hospital visits can be reduced or eliminated.
- Hospice team members can help family members understand the end-of-life process. The team social worker, spiritual care coordinator, and bereavement counselor in particular can help family members become more mentally and emotionally prepared for the death of their loved one, which can make the grieving process less overwhelming.