A loved one in hospice can be a heart-wrenching, difficult, and challenging time for many families. The death of a hospice patient can only add to the heartache family members may already feel. As the person nears the end of his or her life and then passes away, it is important to provide the entire family unit with the care, consideration, and compassion they may seek.
Medicare requires hospices to provide bereavement services to family members and friends for at least a year after a hospice patient dies. 1
Support from Hospice Caregivers
The range of services varies from one hospice care facility to another, but caregivers can offer comfort in a multitude of ways that may provide great support for the families.
1. Individual Therapy
Connecting family members with a grief counselor is one way hospice care can offer support after the loss of a loved one. Since every individual mourns differently, one-on-one therapy may be ideal for certain family members. Bereavement counseling may provide the opportunity for the family to share their emotional distress in a safe and sacred space. Telehealth therapy sessions also make this possible for families who may be unable to attend in-person counseling appointments due to the pandemic, or who feel more comfortable talking to somebody from home.
2. Family Conversations with Social Workers
The logistics that may come into play after a loved one’s death may not often be spoken about in grief loss. But whether it’s handling legal, medical, or financial matters, tackling this heavy list while in the process of mourning can feel overwhelming. That’s where the guidance of a social worker can come in and prove to be most helpful and necessary. The ability to sit down with a social worker and ask questions may be instrumental for a family who is seeking clarity and information during a time of unimaginable hardships.
3. Support Groups
When a loved one in hospice dies, family members may find it helpful to speak to others who have experienced similar losses in the community. While each hospice facility has its own layout and format for support groups, support groups typically consist of a facilitator and individuals who have experienced a loss. The Hospice Foundation of America notes that support groups can be beneficial by providing two gifts: hope through models that reaffirm one can survive the loss, and ways for the person who is mourning to find new empathy, new understandings, and renewed strength. 2
4. Home Care Visits
Hospices can also provide care for families who are mourning by offering home care visits. At the onset of grief, family members may not have the energy to get out of the house, and they may feel more comfortable engaging in personal, one-to-one interactions with others in a setting they are already familiar with. This is where home care visits with a clinician or social worker can facilitate these interactions and help families be more at ease.
Regardless of what type of care a hospice facility provides for those in bereavement, it may be instrumental in helping people find their path to healing and feel less alone.
Learn more about how a specialized EHR solution can keep your hospice agency running smoothly, so you can provide better all-around care for your patients and their families.
1. Journal of Palliative Medicine, “Bereavement among Hospice Caregivers of Cancer Patients One Year following Loss: Predictors of Grief, Complicated Grief, and Symptoms of Depression,” July 2013.
2. Hospice Foundation of America, “Support Groups,” October 21, 2020. https://hospicefoundation.org/Grief-(1)/Support-Groups