Hospice care is based on a team concept in which care is coordinated among:
- Home health aides
- Social workers
- Clergy and other bereavement counselors
- Nutrition counselors
- Family members and other caregivers
Hospice care begins when the hospice admission team, or sometimes just the registered nurse assigned to supervise the case, meet with the patient and caregivers involved. Together, they create a plan of care tailored to the individual patient and schedule subsequent visits by the trained hospice professionals and volunteers.
Patients and their caregivers, especially those new to hospice, may not feel confident in helping with the care plan. But their input is essential. Patients able and willing to participate get the important benefits of having more control over their lives and more fitting care in their final days. For example, a patient who is not religious may not wish to get visits from the hospice chaplain. And a patient who strongly values both privacy and personal hygiene may want more frequent visits from hospice aides trained to provide it discreetly.
And family members and friends helping with caregiving find the certainty comforting — knowing they’ll have scheduled breaks and support from trained hospice workers.
Another point to bear in mind: Care plans, while essential to give certainty and coordination to medical and personal care needs, can be adjusted as those needs change. Everyone involved should be encouraged to express needs for adjustments to the types and times of care.