Hospice Services: A Valuable Resource within a Community
The concept of hospice care in the United States has continued to evolve over the past three decades. Initially met with great skepticism and mistrust by the general population and the medical community, hospice services and care are now considered a valuable resource and venue of care for those suffering from a terminal illness and for their families. The choice of hospice services and the approach of palliation of symptoms, comfort care, and the end of life can be difficult for a patient and family. The many issues that surround the concept of hospice care may cause the patient and family feelings of great sadness, grief, anticipatory grief, anger, defeat, loss, and many other complicated and gut wrenching thoughts and emotions (Chi Ho Chan & Fong Tin, 2012). With the support of the hospice care providers the patient and family have the opportunity to spend quality time together and share their thoughts, concerns, reflect on the past, and most importantly to communicate final good-bye’s and potentially seek closure to any remaining unresolved issues.
The History and Importance of Hospice Services
The beginnings for the hospice programs and services we see today developed from the idea and inspiration of Dame Cicely Saunders. Dame Saunders believed that three things were most important in easing human suffering and discomfort in the final phases of life. She believed that people needed aggressive medical management and relief from uncomfortable symptoms such as pain, that attention and assistance with the emotional, psychological, and spiritual pains of impending death suffered by the dying must be attended to and that the preservation of the dying person’s dignity is paramount.
The hospice concept was first introduced into America in the1970’s, and upon its introduction it was heralded as an innovative, humane, and comprehensive service for those faced with a life limiting diagnosis and entering the terminal phase of life. In 1982, Medicare was expanded by the passage of the Medicare Hospice Benefit which provided federal funds for the provision of care and services for the terminally ill. Currently under Medicare and most private insurance providers the vast majority of hospice services that are provided and directly related to the terminal illness will be covered and reimbursed at 100%. This benefit can be of great comfort to the patient and family in terms of costs related to nursing care, medicines, supplies, and other related medical care costs at the end of life (Neis & McEwen, 2011).
As with any choice in life there are pros and cons when electing hospice services. Some of the pros are; the patient and family can focus primarily on the quality of remaining life and each other. Such as, “I love you.” Additional benefits of hospice services are the provision of care primarily in the comfort and surroundings of the patient’s home or nursing facility,...