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How Does Hospice Care Work?

When a patient with a life-limiting illness or condition decides that curative measures are no longer appropriate, effective or desirable, hospice care becomes a compassionate, dignified and beneficial option for end-of-life care.

When possible, the patient receives care in his or her own home. Family and friends function as the patient’s primary caregivers. In association with the patient’s primary physician and our Medical Director, Hospice of the Sacred Heart provides a specially trained, highly skilled and very experienced team of healthcare professionals to assist the patient, caregivers and family. Each of our team members visits our patients on a regular basis and guides them, their caregivers and families through the process of the terminal illness or condition.

The patient’s primary physician continues in that function according to the wishes of the patient. The primary physician continues to provide care for non-hospice related conditions and also coordinates with our Medical Director and hospice team on hospice care issues.

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Our Medical Directors, who are board certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Care medicine with 20 years of direct hospice experience, follow each patient’s care closely and keep informed about the patient’s current condition by team members. The Medical Director assists in the development of the patient’s plan-of-care and approves any changes made to the plan. The Medical Director along with a team of other Physicians and Nurse Practitioners also prescribes the appropriate medications used for the patient’s palliative care for pain control and psychological well-being.

Our Registered Nurses, acting as the patient’s Case Manager, make regularly scheduled, personal visits to the patient to provide expert pain management and symptom control. Our Case Managers also provide training to the primary caregivers so they can care for the patient properly and safely. During the time the patient is under hospice care, the Case Manager keeps the primary physician, our Medical Director and the family informed regarding the patient’s condition.

Our Social Workers provide assistance with practical and financial concerns as well as emotional support, counseling and bereavement follow-up. They evaluate the need for volunteers and other support services needed by the family and facilitate communication between the family and community agencies.

Our Chaplains provide non-denominational spiritual support to patients and families, often serving as a liaison between them and their religious community. They offer support services ranging from crisis help to private and group grief support. Chaplains also often assist with memorial services and funeral arrangements.

Our nursing staff provides personal care and assistance with activities of daily living, feeding and bathing and hands-on care. They also perform limited household services to maintain a safe and sanitary environment in the areas of the home used by the patient.

Our trained volunteers provide a number of important services. Volunteers offer direct patient support, companionship and practical, caring help. Volunteers can assist the primary caregivers by sitting with the patient to provide the caregivers rest from the sometimes overwhelming task of providing around the clock care for a loved one. Volunteers also may assist us with clerical and administrative tasks in our office.

Our hospice care services are available on a 24/7/365 basis. We stand side-by-side with our patients and their families during their entire stay under our hospice care.

Specifically, we provide:

  • Prescription medications for pain and symptom control
  • Medical equipment and supplies necessary to promote and maintain patient comfort
  • Medical care focused on maintaining patient comfort
  • Assistance with personal care and activities of daily living
  • Coordination of community resources to assist the patient and family with non-medical concerns
  • Assistance by trained volunteers to provide companionship, emotional support and help as possible in other ways as requested by the patient and family
  • Help in coping with spiritual questions and concerns at the end-of-life, either directly by our team or by coordinating services with the patient’s and family’s spiritual advisors

We also remain available to the surviving family for bereavement support. Medicare requires that hospice agencies provide support for at least one year after the death of the patient. Hospice of the Sacred Heart places no time limit on bereavement support. We will be with you as long as you need us.