Overcoming Roadblocks: Doctors and the Hospice Referral Process
Physicians got into the business of healthcare to save lives. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, and physicians need to break the difficult news that a cure is not available.
In a best-case scenario, the physician is able to make a referral to hospice care early, so their patient can begin receiving additional care in their residence and their family can get extra support.
But sometimes, physicians run into roadblocks in referring to hospice because the family doesn’t understand what support is available. Here are a few of the roadblocks physicians may experience and some suggestions on how to overcome them.
Hospice Roadblock: Family Doesn’t Understand How Hospice Can Help
One of the biggest roadblocks to hospice is simply a lack of understanding about what hospice is. Many families believe hospice isn’t a service available until the patient’s final few days of life. In fact, patients are eligible when their physician determines that they will pass away in six months or less if their illness follows its typical course.
Families are also not aware of how much support they receive. Each patient receives visits throughout the week from a nurse, an aide, a social worker, a chaplain, and a bereavement coordinator. Volunteers can also visit the patient to provide companionship and to give the family a break. This team of highly trained individuals meets every two weeks to discuss the patient’s care plan with the hospice medical director to ensure the patient is receiving the best possible care.
Instead of saying “there’s nothing more we can do,” the hospice team says, “we can still care.”
In addition to care for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs, Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care has special programs to enhance quality of life including our Gift of a Day program, Veteran Recognition services, and Life Journals.
Hospice Roadblock: Family “Isn’t Ready Yet”
It’s hard for families to come to grips with the fact that they will soon be losing a loved one. But that doesn’t mean their loved one should receive less care.
It’s important for physicians to explain to families that hospice will give their loved one extra support and comfort. In fact, studies show that patients who receive hospice care early tend to live 29 days longer than patients with similar symptoms who don’t receive the support of hospice care.
Hospice Roadblock: Family Wants to Keep the Patient at Home
Of all the roadblocks to hospice we hear about, this is the easiest one to overcome. Hospice care can be provided wherever the patient calls home. This can be their personal residence, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home.
If a patient wants to stay at home, hospice will provide the support their family needs to keep them there.
Hospice Roadblock: Family is Worried about the Cost of Hospice
This means hospice care is typically provided at no cost to patients or their families. This includes all medical supplies, medical equipment, and prescriptions related to the patient’s terminal illness. Medication, supplies, and equipment are delivered to the patient’s residence as needed, so the family also doesn’t need to worry about going out to pharmacies or standing in line to purchase a hospital bed or wheelchair.
Hospice care is a partnership with the patient’s physicians to ensure they have all the care and support they need to address pain and manage symptoms from their terminal illness. To learn more about the services Crossroads provides, please call 1-888-564-3405.
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