When someone you love is sick with a life-limiting illness, and it is time for you as the caregiver to seek additional help, the process feels overwhelming. Getting started is sometimes the hardest part. We want to help by providing the first steps.

Step 1: Ask you loved one what they want

Knowing your loved is terminally ill is incredibly difficult to handle. At first, you may want to pretend everything is normal, but it is best not to ignore the word “death.” Instead, create meaningful conversations by discussing happy memories, thankfulness, love and forgiveness.

During the conversations, learn about their wishes like how comfortable they want to be, what types of healthcare they want (or don’t want) and who should make health decisions for them if necessary. Determine if they are capable and willing to stay at home, or if they need a hospital or nursing home facility.

 

Step 2: Deciding it is time for hospice

If a doctor delivers a prognosis that your loved one’s illness will take six months or less, then it is time to start talking about how hospice care can help you navigate the coming difficult weeks or months.

Other factors contributing to your decision may be some unrelieved pain, frequent infections, difficulty swallowing, weight loss, a decline in physical function or oxygen dependence. If it is time to stop treatments and focus on the quality of life instead, then McCortney Family Hospice can help you decide what is best.

Most families wish they would have started hospice care sooner because it increases the quality of life for both the caregiver and the patient. Services include help with daily activities, pain management, end-of-life planning and counseling.

 

Step 3: Making the call and asking questions.

Choosing the right hospice care is important, so here are eight questions to ask when you are considering who to ask for help.

  1. What role is the family expected to play in the care process?
  2. How quick is the crisis response team?
  3. Does the hospice care provide services that are right for your family?
  4. What are other people saying about the hospice care?
  5. How does the hospice care track and measure quality service?
  6. Is there any treatment your loved one is currently receiving that the hospice cannot provide?
  7. What type of certifications or state licenses does the hospice carry?
  8. How many staff members are assigned to each patient? Each shift?

 

Step 4: Contact your insurance company

Every private insurance company may have different qualifications and coverage for hospice care. Calling and learning more about what is covered under your policy will help know how to pay for the service and what (if anything) you owe.

Most hospice patients have hospice care coverage through Medicare. Individuals who are eligible must be certified as terminally ill, be accepting palliative care instead of seeking a cure and choose hospice over other forms of medicare-covered treatments.

While hospice care covered by medicare is free, a patient will need to pay $5 for every pain relief prescription and 5% of the respite care costs. Medicare won’t cover a room at a hospital or nursing home, ambulance transportation or treatment intended to cure the disease.

Veteran’s Health Administration also provides hospice care. Know what options are available to your loved one, and make a decision based on what is best for them and the family.

We can also help connect you to community resources if you have no insurance coverage.

 

Step 5: Know who is on your hospice team

Hospice care includes a diverse group of professionals including doctors, nurses, home health aides, spiritual care providers and nutritionists. These individuals help provide pain management, medical equipment, emotional support and grief counseling to loved ones. At McCortney Family Hospice we also provide 24-hour on-call nursing care, chaplains, and if necessary, dietitians or physical therapists.

 

Step 6: Finally, let us help you.

A McCortney Family Hospice we bring experience and caring. By calling us, we can help you tackle the next steps and make sure that your loved one is receiving the best care possible while living with a life-limiting illness. We can answer all of your questions and give your family peace of mind.