How Does Hospice Work?

Hospice is a philosophy of care. It treats the person rather than the disease and focuses on quality of life. It surrounds the patient and family with a hospice care team consisting of professionals who not only address physical distress, but emotional and spiritual issues as well. Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care services are patient-centered because the needs of the patient and family drive the activities of the hospice team.

Have questions about hospice or interested in receiving more hospice information for families? See our frequently asked questions to learn more.

Roles and responsibilities of a hospice care team.

The healthcare professionals of the hospice care team work together to ensure that the patients’ needs are satisfied. The responsibilities of each member of the hospice care services team are:

  • Physician: The physician is responsible for identifying a patient’s need for end-of-life care, and making a referral. The physician is also responsible for providing hospice information for families and patients, including how hospice works. They are encouraged to remain involved as a member of the patient care team, and to actively participate in the hospice plan of care.
  • Hospice Medical Director: The hospice medical director provides an oversight of patient care and support to the hospice care team. The hospice medical director attends a team conference to discuss the plan of care by assisting in establishing goals, and participating in decisions regarding patient care.
  • Registered Nurse Case Manager: The registered nurse case manager coordinates the plan of care with the physician and hospice medical director through initial and ongoing nursing assessments. The nurse visits the patient two or three times a week, or as needed, to ensure all distressing symptoms are effectively managed and that patient and family needs are being met. The RN supervises all care provided by the licensed practical nurse and home health aide, and coordinates care with the other members of the hospice care team to ensure patient and family spiritual and psychosocial needs are met.
  • Social Worker: The hospice social worker provides initial and ongoing psychosocial assessments (mental, emotional, social, and spiritual dimensions of the patient) and establishes a psychosocial plan of care. The social worker normally sees the patient once or twice a month to provide emotional support and ensure patient and family psychosocial needs are being met. The patient/family or any member of the hospice care team can request additional psychosocial visits as needed. The social worker can provide assistance and hospice information to families and patients. This could include helping the patient with a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, assisting with finding community resources, and making arrangements for nursing home placement or transfer to inpatient care facility. The hospice social worker can also provide counseling to the patient or family in times of crisis.
  • Chaplain: The hospice chaplain provides spiritual support to the patient and family as needed. The chaplain visits once or twice per month or more often if requested. The care provided by the hospice chaplain can address religious issues, however the focus of care is more spiritual, in nature, than religious. Care by the hospice chaplain is non-denominational.
  • Bereavement Counselor: The bereavement counselor can help the patient deal with the grief associated with declining health and guide the family through bereavement before and after the loss of a loved one. The bereavement counselor can provide bereavement services to the family up to a year, or longer, after a loved one passes.
  • Home Health Aide: The home health aide assists the patient and family with personal care needs and light housekeeping. They also inform family members how hospice works, and teach the correct and safe method for providing personal care to the patient. The home health aide supplements the care provided by the nurse case manager.
  • Hospice Volunteer: The hospice volunteer provides companionship and support to the patient and family. All hospice volunteers are required to attend volunteer training at the hospice. The volunteers of Crossroads assist with general services and offer companionship for the patient.

Is hospice right for you or your loved one? Get additional hospice information and find Crossroads hospice care in your area.

Learn 10 facts you may not know about hospice care for free now.

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