In poll after poll, Americans consistently say they want to die at home. Hospicare, like all hospices, is set up to help our patients do just that. When patients choose to receive our services, they immediately begin to receive care based on the principles of comfort, dignity and choice. This individualized patient- and family-centered care is most often provided in the comfort of the patient’s own home. Yes, it’s true: our board-certified hospice and palliative physicians and fully credentialed interdisciplinary teams of nurses, aides, chaplains, social workers and counselors make house calls! In addition, we arrange for any needed medical equipment such as special beds, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks and nebulizers to be brought to the home so that the patient can be as comfortable as possible.
Knowing that their loved one can remain at home while being cared for by professionals trained in end-of-life care can often ease the minds of the patient’s family members and friends. But there is another piece to the end-of-life care-giving puzzle that is also extremely important: the primary caregiver. While Hospicare team members will visit patients in their homes, those visits are usually an hour at a time, a few times a week. The main caregiving duties still fall to the patient’s primary caregiver, usually a family member.
We will do all we can to assist the primary caregiver. Our social workers and bereavement counselors are available to help with problems the caregiver may be experiencing, including practical problems as well as feelings of grief or inadequacy that can surface during this stressful time. Our nurses will educate caregivers on care and symptom management, and we have a nurse, on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to answer questions that may arise. We can also provide trained volunteers to visit with the patient an hour at a time, freeing up caregivers to have some private time for themselves. Many caregivers find that this assistance is a great support to them both physically and mentally.
Sometimes, however, a patient’s needs become too much for the caretaker to handle at home. When that happens, the Nina K. Miller Hospicare Residence is an option for the patient. At the Residence, we provide intensive around-the-clock care in a homelike setting, which can lift the burden of constant responsibility from the caregiver, providing much-needed relief.