There are many misconceptions about hospice care.
“One of the biggest challenges and unfortunate things we see is that people really don’t understand what hospice is truly designed to offer,” said Melanie Upshaw, Executive Director of Hospice & Business Development with Phoenix Home Care & Hospice. Upshaw mentioned that, as a society, we tend to choose hospice late in life so when people hear the word “hospice” they think it’s only meant to be utilized for the last few days of someone’s life, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Instead of being only for the last days of one’s life, “Hospice is designed to be a six-month benefit so we can help educate families and the people going through the hospice journey. One of the greatest benefits of hospice is having a team of experts walking alongside people during this journey. For families who choose hospice earlier, we often see they have more peace, they have the opportunity to gain closure for difficult situations and they are afforded extra time for planning, which reduces the risk of having to make decisions during crisis. The more time you have, the more time there is for families to have better moments and to establish relationships and trust with their hospice providers. It really empowers people to realize that they can have a high-quality life while receiving healthcare in their own home.”
“People often feel like hospice is giving up on when really it’s just changing the direction of their health care,” said Upshaw.
Instead of seeking care in hospitals and clinics, Phoenix Hospice sends a team of home care experts including a nurse case manager, a chaplain for spiritual support, a social worker who can help with resources and counseling, and an aide to help with personal care like bathing and showering. “Being a caregiver is hard for family members. You do it because you are willing to do whatever it takes to help your loved one, but it is incredibly hard. It’s especially hard when you don’t know what to expect.” For the families who would benefit from additional caregiver support, Phoenix Hospice can help facilitate referrals for a private caregiver or long-term care placement. Phoenix Hospice is also able to offer a short-term respite stay in a facility, which is covered under the hospice benefit. And hospice care doesn’t stop when a family says goodbye to their loved one. Phoenix continues to offer support to grieving families for 15 months following the passing of their family member.
“People say ‘I’m not ready to give up’,” said Upshaw. “We tell them they’re not giving up but instead they’re choosing to focus on pain and symptom management and comfort as opposed to seeking testing and diagnostics and treatments that may no longer work. Hospice isn’t about focusing on dying. Hospice is truly focused on living – it’s about focusing on making each day we have left the best day it can be.”
Upshaw recommends that everyone over 18 have an advanced directive that includes hospice care for their health care wishes. “Don’t wait until a crisis happens to talk about your wishes for your future. When we make decisions in crisis, we often look back and question decisions we made or wish we’d done something differently. We work hard to encourage people, even before they go into hospice, to bring together all their family members who may have input on their health care decisions. These conversations provide the opportunity to explain what you want your last days to look like and as your health changes, what that road looks like. When we do this, hopefully conflict can be avoided, and everyone can be on the same page and honor the wishes of that loved one who is walking that hospice journey. “
Product or Service: Phoenix provides acute Skilled Nursing through Home Health Service; Private Duty Nursing to children and young adults with Special Need; Private Duty Care such as nursing, nurse- aide or companion level assistance with activities of daily living from a few hours a day to around-the-clock care; state funded In-home services (homemaker chores, errands and shopping, personal care, education, med set-ups and reminders); Consumer Directed Service where Phoenix serves as a state vendor to provide administrative support services; and Hospice (hospice available in specific regions only); Department of Mental Health; Comprehensive Disease Management; Chronic Care Management through Keep Well ACO.