The American Cancer Society defines hospice as a specialized type of care focused on increasing the quality of life of the people and their caregivers. Patients under this kind of care experience illness that are in the advanced stages and are life-limiting.
Referring a patient to hospice homes is a way to provide them with compassionate and round-the-clock care. This is done to make them live full and comfortable lives during the last phases of their illness. Hospice treats the patients’ symptoms instead of the disease itself.
Hospice accepts death as the final stage of life. It celebrates life in itself but does not try to postpone death. This makes this type of care a topic for myths.
What are the myths surrounding hospice?
1. People in hospice gave up on life
To debunk, even if the philosophy of hospice itself accepts death as a final stage of life, being under it does not mean one is giving up. Studies have shown that terminally ill patients who go under hospice live longer than those who choose to go under aggressive medical care during the last stages of their illness.
2. Hospice is only for cancer patients
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30.4 percent of American cancer patients utilize hospice. They are spread throughout homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. However, based on the findings, cancer patients do not make up the whole population of individuals under hospice. Hospice can also be provided to others with a terminal illness. It can be heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, liver disease, kidney failure, or any condition that limits a person’s life.
3. The patients’ family will be excluded
Debunking this myth starts with stating that hospice is family-centered. Patients and their respective families decide when to consider putting the patients under hospice care. A discussion between the patients and their families with their doctor is essential for decision-making that will affect all of them. Moreover, one of the hospice’s functions is to make the final stages of a person’s life in sickness as full as possible. That includes time spent with their family.
4. Hospice is expensive
Undergoing hospice care is covered by a majority of insurance companies. Medicare benefits fund it, and patients can stay under this type of care for unlimited periods. Most insurance policies cover hospice–medications, supplies, and equipment.
5. Hospice is provided at hospitals
The fact of the matter is hospice can be provided at the patient’s home. The family can opt to have hospice services brought to their home. Hospice can also be provided inside nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals.
6. There is no turning back from hospice
In reality, patients can decide to discontinue undergoing hospice any time they please. It is up to them and their families if they want to continue curative treatment again. Additionally, patients can apply anytime after deciding to leave hospice.
7. No medications will be provided under hospice
Hospice care provides top-of-the-line equipment and medications to patients to relieve the symptoms of their illness. They take advantage of equipment to relieve the pain the patients are going through to keep them comfortable.
8. Hospice is the waiting area for passing
The hospice philosophy previously stated in this article talks about how hospice does not prolong life or hasten death. Its goal is to better the quality of the patient’s life, especially during their final days. This is done in the form of relieving pain, providing emotional support, and letting them spend time with their family. Hospice services do not include euthanasia or mercy killing in its line of services.
9. Hospice services let patients live the way they want
Patients under hospice are under close monitoring for their physical movements. Medical professionals monitor their food and fluid intake because certain illnesses can alter the processes involved in food digestion.
10. The death of the patient is the end of hospice
A significant part of hospice and its family-centered value is the provision of bereavement or grief support to the deceased’s family. Some also provide funeral arrangement assistance and help in other matters on the patient’s passing.
A myriad of myths surrounds hospice, which is not strange, considering there are always debunkable myths about health care in general. When considering hospice services, it is important to be informed with the right knowledge to best cater to the patients and their needs.