Specialized End-of-Life Care
If there’s any aspect of the care and personalized attention offered by Riverside that most embodies the Riverside mission – to care for others as we would care for those we love – it’s hospice.
Hospice is a closely supervised program of individualized services and overall support. It offers help and support 24/7 at home or in any home-like setting for people with a life-limiting prognosis. Some of the most common reasons people receive hospice care are health conditions like cancer, heart or lung disease, kidney or liver disease and Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Hospice includes the symptom-relief, pain management and increased comfort benefits of palliative care with an even greater emphasis on emotional, psychological and spiritual support for patients as well as family members. Most important of all, it brings families the full range of resources they need to make sure their loved one can spend his or her final days in the familiar surroundings of home, in an atmosphere of comfort and dignity.
Making the Most of the Time That Remains
Although hospice involves end-of-life care, the Riverside team members direct their collective training, experience and compassion to helping make the patient’s time as fulfilling as possible. What home hospice accomplishes is to remove some of the issues, distractions and day-to-day details that are part of a terminal illness, so patients can complete important activities and organize their personal affairs… while spending more and better time together with family and friends.
Bringing Together a Special Group of People
We’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. What the hospice experience shows us is that there is great value in being part of a supportive and caring community at the end of life, too. The Riverside team that comes together for home hospice consists first and foremost of the patient’s family, along with the hospice medical director, physicians and nurses, medical social workers, physical and occupational therapists, nutritional counselors, volunteers trained in hospice care and chaplains or other spiritual care coordinators. Working together with physician guidance, this specially trained group develops a care plan that meets the unique needs and desires of each patient and family.
The Riverside team also makes arrangements for any medical equipment and medical supplies that may be needed based on the individual diagnosis. In addition to support during the period of home hospice care, family caregivers have access to ongoing grief and bereavement counseling.
Separating the Myths from the Facts
The end-of-life care available through hospice is one of the most significant, life-affirming choices that patients and families can make and it’s important to have the facts you need to make an informed decision. It’s also important to know what is not accurate when it comes to home hospice. Here are four of the misconceptions that people sometimes hold regarding these specialized services for patients and families:
MYTH #1: Entering hospice means that you’ve given up hope.
FACT: What hospice actually represents is an opportunity to be more in control of the progress of your condition while significantly improving quality of life. Hospice care will neither shorten nor prolong life, but rather holds the potential to add comfort and dignity to the life that remains.
MYTH #2: Once you choose to enter hospice, you have to stick with that decision.
FACT: The fact is, if hospice doesn’t meet your expectations for any reason, you can discontinue the support. If a patient’s condition improves – for example, if the disease goes into remission – the patient can easily transition from hospice back to regular medical treatment. Similarly, you can readily be admitted to the hospital if symptoms can’t be successfully managed at home.
MYTH #3: You can’t keep your own doctor if you enter hospice.
FACT: Many people have trusting and often long-term relationships with their physicians. For that reason, the hospice team works closely with the patient’s doctor by involving her or him in the initial plan of care and through ongoing communications. So, you keep your own doctor – and gain a team in the process.
MYTH #4: In order to receive hospice care, a patient must go to a designated hospice center.
FACT: Hospice is an approach to end-of-life care, not a physical space. You can receive hospice care wherever you feel the most comfortable and wherever the need exists. For most people, that place is home, whether it’s the traditional family home, an assisted living facility or any other place where they reside.
The Link Between Technology and Improved Care
One of the ways the team stays closely connected is through technology. Riverside is recognized as one of the most "wired" organizations in the area. This means that your Riverside care provider will have your most up-to-date medical records at their fingertips and be able to easily communicate with your Riverside physician and other health providers about your care. You will have added peace of mind knowing your entire medical team is working together to provide you with the individualized care you deserve.
Taking the Next Step
It’s important to keep in mind that patients and their families can receive hospice for six months or longer, depending on the course of the illness. This team-based, compassionate care brings the most benefits when there is as much time as possible to relieve symptoms and establish a trusting bond between Riverside care providers and the patient and family. In fact, many patients and family members who experience home hospice say they wish they began sooner.
If you think hospice is the right choice for you or for a loved one, please call us. We can talk with you about hospice eligibility and what to expect. We can also explain how hospice is paid for – for example, Medicare pays 100 percent if guidelines are met.
As an end-of-life decision, receiving home hospice care is worthy of your thoughtful consideration. We’re here to help support your choice and provide the people and the resources needed to help you or someone close to you live life as fully as possible.
Riverside Hospice: Serving the Peninsula communities
Riverside Walter Reed Hospice: Serving the Middle Peninsula
Riverside Shore Hospice: Serving the Eastern Shore of Virginia
Riverside Tappahannock Hospice: Serving the Northern Neck area
Ongoing Grief and Loss Support
Riverside Hospice provides ongoing grief support as individuals and families work through the loss of a loved one. We encourage participants to share experiences as they wish. Some of the most effective healing comes when people are able to relate to others in a similar situation. To learn more about joining one of our groups, view our list of support groups to find the one that is the best fit for you.