The misconceptions and fear of death can shadow some of the living moments that Hospice Care can provide. You hear the stories about families waiting too long to contact a hospice organization and how they wished that they had known all that hospice care could have done for them sooner. You don’t hear the stories about how graduating from hospice care has made life moments happen and what that experience means to the family.
In 2016, Hospice of Northwest Michigan graduated 20 individuals from their Hospice care. About 5-10 percent of patients on hospice care do actually graduate. “Graduating” hospice care does not mean that these individuals were miraculously cured of their terminal illness nor does it mean that these individuals died.
What does it mean to “Graduate” from hospice? It means that these individuals & families chose to get on hospice as soon as possible, were able to benefit from all the hospice services that they wanted and that their condition stabilized to the point where they no longer needed the day to day hospice care and support. The individual and family had the tools and resources in place to continue living while in comfort, with dignity and support, and that the individual’s condition was stable and no longer declining. They did not need the nurse, the aide, the medical social worker or any of the other hospice staff coming in on a regular basis to continue living their life. These individuals and families also were provided the comfort of knowing that at anytime if their condition changed, they could come back on to hospice services.
Graduation from hospice care is truly a testament to what a difference hospice care can make at end of life and why is should be planned for. Patient-centered care can make all the difference as it takes care of patients’ spiritual, emotional and medical needs all at the same time. Statistics show that the sooner you get on hospice the longer you live. Testimonials show that hospice care brings comfort, peace and dignity to both the individual and the loved ones involved….and it can even support make life moments happen for longer than anticipated.
A Hospice referral is not a death sentence. It is a referral to support and care that makes a difference in your end of life journey experience. I have heard many a wish to die pain free, in peace, with dignity and surrounded by loved ones. That wish is part of the Hospice Care definition, along with so much more.
You have a Choice in hospice care. It is not all the same and it is not provided by one organization with many branches like a bank. Consumers need to know their choices and assert themselves appropriately to get the care they want and need.