Jen Dunn, Director of Home Health & Hospice
Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital
1200 Westwood Drive
Hamilton, MT 59840
How can Hospice Help?
It is understandable that when someone is nearing the end of life it can
be very challenging for the individual and their loved ones. Hospice care
focuses on making this period of transition as peaceful and comfortable
as possible for everyone involved.
While many could benefit from hospice care, most people wait too long.
Maybe they are afraid to discuss it with their family or physician, or
don’t know how to access hospice, or don’t realize how it
could benefit them. Many of our families tell us that had they understood
hospice and all the support it could provide to them, they would have
sought assistance from our team much sooner. It is important to have a
discussion with your healthcare provider and let them know early on if
you or your loved one is interested in recieveing hospice care (if and
when it may become appropriate). Remember, receiving hospice care will
not extened nor shorten life, but assist in improving the quality of time
that is left.
Here are answers to questions we are frequently asked regarding hospice
services and philosophy.
What is Hospice?
Hospice is care focused on providing comfort and quality for patients and
families facing end of life challenges. It aims to treat, prevent or relieve
the symptoms of a life-threatening illness, but not to cure it. Hospice
caregivers strive to honor the dignity and choices of each patient and
family to help them remain in control of their care plan. Hospice encompasses
each person's unique physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.
Our team provides support to the patient, caregivers, family and friends
both prior to, and after death.
Who qualifies for Hospice services?
Hospice care is appropriate for anyone with a terminal/qualifying diagnosis,
a less than six month life expectancy, and for those who have chosen to
seek pain and symptom management instead of life prolonging treatments.
If your condition improves, or if you choose to pursue curative treatments,
or even if you change your mind, you can revoke participation at any time.
What services does Hospice provide?
We offer an interdisciplinary team of nurses, certified aides, social workers,
therapists, chaplains, pharmacists, volunteers and a medical director
who work alongside you, your family and your personal physician. Our goal
is to provide treatment of the person rather than the disease and to focus
on quality rather than quantity of life. Services include thorough assessments,
development of a comprehensive care plan, pain and symptom relief, medications
related to the terminal diagnosis, medical supplies and equipment, education
for caregivers, spiritual and emotional support, bereavement counseling,
personal assistance and companionship and on-call hospice nurses 24/7
to answer questions or make home visits if necessary.
Where is Hospice Care provided?
Hospice services may be provided either in the patient’s place of
residence (home, skilled nursing facility, assisted living facility) or
in a Hospice Center, depending on each individual’s needs and situation.
The Marcuds Daly Hospice Center also provides temporary respite care when
caregivers need a break as well as long term, inpatient care. When utilizing
Hospice services in the home, typically a spouse, child or paid care provider
will serve as the primary caregiver with Hospice staff and volunteers
making regular visits to assist, educate and enhance the quality of care.
Specific visit frequency, level of care and team member involvement will
depend on each patient’s needs, their hospice plan of care and the
patient’s current condition.
Who pays for Hospice?
Hospice benefits are available to patients with Medicare, Medicaid, VA,
and many private insurance plans.
How Can I be referred to Hospice?
Referrals for hospice care may come from many possible sources, including
physicians, other healthcare providers, family members or prospective
When is the right time to talk about end of life care?
It’s never too early! Start the conversation about end of life care
with your loved ones. Ask questions about wishes for treatments and goals
for care. Consider completing your advanced directives together. Advanced
directives are documents that express how you would want to be treated
if you were seriously ill and unable to make decisions for yourself. Examples
of advanced directives are living wills, medical powers of attorney and
provider ordes for life sustaining treatments (POLST). The Montana’s
End-of-Life Registry has extensive information available on advance directives
and actual forms you can fill out at
www.msuextension.org. Then, have a conversation with your healthcare provider if you are wondering
about hospice care. You may also wish to contact a hospice provider directly
and request that a hospice representative meet with you to assist in determining
if you qualify for hospice services, assist in the referral process or
discuss payment options.
The last months, weeks and days of life are just as important as the first.
Hospice programs can offer unique benefits that make this time as meaningful
and painfree as possible. The sooner you call, the sooner hospice can
help. Patients are typically referred too late in their illness and gain
only limited benefit to all the services that we can offer. Ask your healthcare
provider about hospice services or call your local hospice team to find
out how they may be able to assist you in living your life to the fullest,
to the very end.
Join us at the Marcus Daly Hospice Tree of Lights on Thursday, December 7th at 5pm at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital in conference rooms Blodgett and
Canyon View. Take this opportunity to reflect and remember those we love
during this special season. Enjoy homemade soup, bread and treats followed
by a remembrance ceremony and the lighting of the hospice holiday tree!
Questions and or comments regarding this week’s health column please
contact, Jen Dunn, Director Home Health and Hospice at Marcus Daly Memorial
Hospital, 1200 Westwood Drive, Hamilton, MT 59840. Working together to
build a healthier community!