Dear Church Family,
My mother-in-law passed away in August. Unfortunately, there was some poor communication between the facility taking care of her and our family, which has left us not feeling very good about the facility. I plan to take the next few newsletters to give you some information that might help you navigate through certain issues.
One problem we encountered was the definition of Comfort Care, Palliative Care and HOSPICE. Apparently there are a number of health professionals who use these terms interchangeably. They are not all the same thing! After reading several articles about this topic, I find that Comfort Care is the umbrella term under which Palliative and HOSPICE Care fall. When asked if you want Comfort Care for your loved one, your response should be “which type?”. In our case, the Nurse Practitioner thought Comfort Care was the same as HOSPICE Care. She made a referral to HOSPICE. My mother-in-law did not want HOSPICE, and that was still her choice to make. They stopped trying to encourage her to eat, they stopped giving her certain meds (which I thought actually helped her to be more comfortable). When a HOSPICE nurse called about meeting with us for an admission to HOSPICE we were confused, thinking she was on Palliative Care. We asked my mother-in-law if she wanted HOSPICE and she declined. We had her changed to Palliative Care.
So what is the difference? Palliative Care works to help patients with pain control and emotional issues. This can be done alongside working to CURE the patient’s illness. Pain control, maintaining and prolonging life, and improving quality of life are the hopeful outcomes. HOSPICE Care is end of life care. The patient is no longer looking for a cure and has been given an approximate 6- month or less life expectancy by a doctor. Frequently many of the meds a person takes daily (including insulin) are stopped. If they choose not to eat, they are not encouraged to. Controlling pain, enhancing quality of life as much as possible, and a “peaceful” death is what HOSPICE hopes to achieve.
Both HOSPICE and Palliative Care can be done in the hospital, nursing home, or home. There are several excellent HOSPICE homes with 24/7 care in the area. HOSPICE can be done in your own home but a family member or friend must be a full time caregiver. A HOSPICE nurse is on call 24hrs. by phone. HOSPICE is a fully covered Medicare benefit. Call me with any questions!
God Bless, Beth