Hospice homes offer patients with advanced illness a more dignified way of receiving appropriate care. Compassionate hospice care workers also aim to improve their patients’ the quality of life, which is especially important when that life is nearing its end.
There are plenty of misconceptions, however, about what hospice care entails that make patients and families apprehensive about seeking its services. Here are some common — and unfounded — fears about hospice care:
Fear 1: As hospice workers take over, family members lose the chance to take care of the patient.
Families hesitate to seek help because they fear that hospice workers might forbid them to care for their terminally ill loved one. On the contrary, families are actually encouraged to be present and provide as much care as possible. Here in Indiana, some institutions that offer hospice care even see input from family members as an important part of a patient’s care plan.
Fear 2: Hospice workers impose their own religion on patients.
Religious professionals — often referred to as spiritual care counselors — may provide spiritual support in accordance to the patient’s needs and wishes. Spiritual care counselors do not, however, impose a particular religion on those they assist. In fact, hospices employ several professionals of various faiths, so they can cater to a broader range of spiritual concerns.
Fear 3: Hospice care hastens a patient’s death.
Hospices operate to ease a person’s remaining time on earth, not expedite it. It is also illegal for hospice workers to rush or prolong death. The hospice care workers’ primary concern is to improve the patient’s quality of remaining life and to help them spend more time with family and friends. The goal is to help the patients experience a pain-free, natural death.
The National Institutes of Health reports that 20 percent of deaths in the U.S. happen in the intensive care unit. Another survey, however, shows that if given the choice, many Americans would rather die at home, close to their loved ones. Hospice is a service that’s often misunderstood, but it can help terminally ill people spend their final weeks and months more comfortably with their family.