When a patient is admitted to hospice for end-of-life care, their loved ones and family may be trying to figure out how to process a range of emotions during what can be a difficult, transitioning time for all. Families may have a string of questions to ask, and it is common for them to turn to hospice staff for support and guidance. Hospice professionals can use this opportunity to be a source of strength and comfort, and to provide families with educational and practical resources they may need. Below are a few suggestions on how hospices can join forces with families and be there for the patient in their care.
1) Help with Communication and Difficult Conversations
Family members may be faced with some tough decisions to make on behalf of their loved one in hospice. They may also look for ways to better communicate with their loved one and ensure their needs and final wishes are met. Hospice staff can facilitate these conversations by being open and receptive to any questions, thoughts or concerns.1 For example, the family of a loved one may look for answers to the following questions: 2
- What can we expect during this time?
- Will someone always be by my loved one’s side?
- What happens if my loved one refuses to accept medication?
- What levels of pain control will be used?
Navigating these questions can help loved ones feel a sense of ease and peace. Keep in mind that a caring and compassionate tone can go a long way for families who are unsure about which direction to turn to.
2) Connect Families to Support Groups and Counseling
Nowadays, support groups are available for various types of life events and situations to help others feel less alone, while also acting as the link to communities of like-minded individuals.3 Hospices can be the bridge to connect families to support groups, such as those listed on the Hospice Foundation of America website, so they can feel free to open up about the difficulties and challenges they’re experiencing. A support group or counselor can also be an outlet for family members to share their pains and heartache they wouldn’t want to otherwise burden their loved one in hospice with.
3) Offer Educational and Helpful Resources
It can feel overwhelming when somebody you care about is in hospice and you don’t know what to do. Whether it’s putting together a checklist for end-of-life planning or providing information about how to write a living will with your loved one, thankfully, hospices can direct families to a slew of information and resources they may be able to benefit from or find useful.4 For example, if a family member is having financial difficulties paying their hospice bills, hospice staff can connect them to a social worker to devise a financially feasible payment plan. They may also put them in touch with other professionals that can help them better understand other aspects of hospice care.
4) Focus on the Patient’s Needs
If a loved one in hospice has expressed a set of final wishes, hospice staff can work with their family to fulfill their personal requests. Working collectively as a team can help the patient feel loved and cared for and valued. Additionally, writing up a plan that meets any other needs the patient may have also ensures that their end-of-life journey is treated with the utmost respect, compassion and care.5
Working together with families can drive forth great insights and solutions that may be in the best interest of the patient.
Learn more about how a specialized EHR solution can keep your hospice care setting running smoothly and efficiently, and help you work alongside families of patients.
1, 3Pathways Home Health and Hospice, “Hospice Social Workers: How They Help Patients and Their Families,” 2020.
2American Hospice and Palliative Care, “Questions to Ask Your Loved One’s Hospice Worker,” February 16, 2019.
4Death With Dignity, “End-Of-Life Resources for Patients and Families,” November 20, 2020.
5Inspiration Home Health and Hospice, “What Would It Take To Fulfill Your Last Wish?,” November 20, 2020.