Samaritan honors nurse-hospice patients. Nurses have dedicated their lives to caring for others. At the end…
Many people think hospice is just for a dying person’s last few days or weeks. However, hospice is available – and beneficial – to people who still have many months to live. Hospice provides a wide range of supports that enhance comfort, dignity, and quality of life for both patients and their loved ones. Therefore, the earlier a patient starts on hospice, the more benefits they and their family will receive.
Hospice care in New Jersey can last for six months or more.
Here’s how the timing works: Anyone with a terminal illness can qualify for hospice care if their life expectancy is six months or less. The person’s doctor and the hospice organization’s physician must both certify the person’s life expectancy.
After a patient receives hospice care for six months, they may continue on hospice in many cases. The hospice doctors would simply need to periodically re-certify them. Re-certifying a patient for continued hospice services depends on if the patient is showing evidence of physical decline.
(For more details, see “How does the hospice process work?” below.)
In fact, it is not unusual for someone to remain on hospice longer than six months. That’s because predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. Moreover, hospice care can extend a person’s life by increasing their comfort and lessening symptoms like pain, nausea, and anxiety, among many others.
Therefore, when someone asks, “How long can a patient stay in hospice in South Jersey?” there is no specific time limit. It depends on each person’s health, progression of their illness, and doctors’ best estimates of their life expectancy.
Hospice is a special kind of care for people near the end of life, which focuses on enhancing well-being and quality of life, rather than attempting to “cure” the person.
People who are terminally ill often choose to stop receiving aggressive treatment at some point. That’s where hospice comes in: It helps people spend their remaining time in comfort, peace, and dignity.
Hospice is a holistic form of care – meaning that it addresses a person’s full range of needs: physical, emotional, social, and spiritual, as defined by the patient and family. Hospice enables people to focus on what matters most to them, and often allows them to avoid hospitalization at the end of life.
Hospice care is given where the patient lives, such as the family’s home, assisted-living facility, or nursing home. Patients who need intensive, 24-hour support to relieve pain or other symptoms can receive hospice care in a specialized, inpatient hospice center.
Hospice provides benefits to the family, too, including advice and support on caring for their loved one, on-call access to the hospice team, respites from caregiving, and grief support.
Care is provided by a specially trained team, including hospice physicians, nurses, certified home health aides, social workers, spiritual support counselors, grief counselors, various types of therapists, and trained volunteers. Services can include physical care, counseling, prescription drugs, equipment, and supplies for the person’s illness and related conditions.
Here are the steps involved in the hospice process:
To learn more about Medicare’s hospice coverage, click here.
Finally, it’s important to realize that hospice is about living. Its focus shouldn’t be on how long it will last but instead it is about helping patients and families have as good a life as possible, up to and including the moment of death. And after a person’s death, hospice can be there to help survivors cope with their loss and move forward – on their own timetable – with their life.