When Should a Doctor Recommend Hospice?
Even with excellent care, there will come a time where a patient with a terminal disease reaches the maximum benefit of curative treatment. Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care is your partner in continuing to provide your patient with the care and support they need when curative treatment is no longer working.
When is it time for a hospice referral?
A patient may reach the maximum benefit of curative treatment for two reasons:
- The treatment may no longer be effective
- The patient may choose to discontinue treatment to focus on comfort care due to side effects and quality of life issues.
Signs that curative treatment are no longer effective include:
- Frequent hospital admissions or trips to the ER
- A decline in their ability to perform daily activities including eating, using the bathroom, walking, and getting dressed
- An increased frequency in falls
- Progressive weight loss
- Declining cognitive status
- Infections, skin tears, and other signs of decreasing health
But ultimately, the question of when a doctor should recommend hospice comes down to this: “Would you be surprised if this patient passed away in the next six months?” If the answer is no, then it may be time to add the support of hospice to your patient’s care.
What does hospice provide?
When a doctor recommends hospice, they are not giving up on their patient. They are partnering with a team of experienced end-of-life professionals to increase that patient’s comfort, care, and support.
Hospice care provides your patient with visits from nurses and aides to assist their caregivers with clinical and personal care needs. Social workers step in to help your patient and their family access additional resources and assist in end-of-life planning. Chaplains address your patient’s spiritual needs, and volunteers offer their time to provided extra companionship and the opportunity for family members to take a break. In addition, bereavement coordinators are standing by to provide grief support to the patient and their family.
All medication related to the patient’s terminal illness and all medical supplies and equipment related to this terminal illness are provided at no cost to the patient or family. They are delivered wherever the patient resides and education is provided on their use.
Instead of returning to the hospital when symptoms increase or new symptoms appear, the patient’s hospice team will work with the patient’s physician to control pain, shortness of breath, mobility issues, or other discomfort in the patient’s home or an assisted living facility.
Crossroads also provides special programs designed to enhance your patient’s quality of life. Each patient has the opportunity to receive a Gift of a Day and a Life Journal. The Gift of a Day provides the patient one day to forget about their illness and do something they love or always wanted to try. The Life Journal is a beautiful hardcover book documenting their life, filled with photos, stories, recipes, and words of wisdom. In addition, patients who served in our armed forces are given a Veteran Recognition Ceremony to thank them for their service to our country.
When a terminally ill patient needs more care, Crossroads is here to help you provide it. If you have more questions about when a doctor should recommend hospice, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Please call us at 1-888-564-3405 to refer a patient or learn more.