Home Hospice 101: How it works, who it’s for, and why it matters
As a social worker for Memorial Regional Health’s home hospice care program, Melissa Almon wants you to know that if someone you care about is approaching the end of life, MRH can help in many ways.
“The mission of hospice is to improve an individual’s quality of life,” said Almon. “When a person accepts hospice care, this does not mean they have to stop living their life. In fact, hospice helps them live out their final time as fully as possible and with consistent symptoms management.”
Most families are grateful to have their loved one’s home at the end of life, said Almon. “Friends and family members can freely visit without concern for visiting hours or visitor limits. For patients with confusion or dementia, remaining in their home can also reduce fear and further confusion.”
The MRH home hospice team visits patients in their homes as often as needed. During a home visit by a hospice nurse, the patient receives a general medical check as well as an assessment for any issues with pain. The nurse ensures that the patient is comfortable and that the family and patient are satisfied with the care they are receiving.
In addition to nurses, the hospice team also includes physicians, social workers, CNAs, volunteers, pastoral caregivers, and therapists. These professionals may also visit the patient and family in the home as requested or needed. Having a multidisciplinary team working in their best interests means that all the family’s needs can be met without additional outside services.
Patients throughout Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties
Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many insurances and is available to anyone in the greater Craig, Steamboat and Meeker area whom a physician has determined may have approximately six months or less to live.
The physician refers the patient to hospice, and once a referral is received, the hospice team then assesses the patient’s appropriateness for hospice care.
“We see a lot of individuals who would have been appropriate for hospice several months prior to accepting our care,” she said. “They spend months in pain and are limited in what they can do. Hospice care helps them act on what is important to them and who they want to spend time with rather than being restricted in those activities due to sometimes debilitating symptoms. Accepting hospice is not an instant death sentence — it is the gift of quality of life for the time you still have.”
The role of emotional support
“As a whole, the hospice team supplies the family and patient with empathy and compassion,” Almon said. “We wrap the family in a blanket of support so that they can feel confident that their loved one is being cared for in a respectful, genuine and consistent manner.”
Almon is also in charge of the hospice volunteer program.
“Volunteers help with basic chores and errands, or they may be a companion to the patient. They might spend time with the patient so their family members can have brief respite from being in the home,” Almon said. “This might be as simple as reading to the patient or watching a movie with them. You would be astonished to see how even small actions can have a profound impact for the patient and their family. Being a volunteer is a great way to be part of the hospice team as we walk alongside the patient and their family on this end-of-life journey.”
For more information about MRH’s Home Hospice or Home Healthcare Services, call 970.824.6882.
The following upcoming events will benefit home health and hospice services.
When: 11 a.m. check-in; noon shotgun start on Friday, June 10
Where: Yampa Valley Golf Course
Info: Call 970-826-2424
Flying Color 5K Race/Walk
When: 7 a.m. Aug. 6
Where: Loudy-Simpson Park
Info: Event is in conjunction with the Moffat County Balloon Festival. To register, go to rb.gy/lshq5f.
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