My client passed last week. I had opened him and his family to my services in April, and while they expressed happiness to have my assistance, my client said he didn’t think he needed hospice at that time because “I don’t think I’m at the end of my life”. I didn’t push back, I just explained hospice to them and we agreed that we would revisit the subject again once he felt he was getting near the end of life.
After multiple visits to the ER, some of which he had been admitted, the doctor informed him that there was nothing more to be done and it would be best to go home to comfort care with a local hospice.
For my client and his family, hospice did what hospice does, and although I was not there for any of the visits, I feel relatively sure that my client was given fairly good care. I was told that there were visits from the case manager, hospice health aide, and social worker during the days he was on service. When I was there, I noticed the durable medical equipment and other supplies and was told that they had received medications that had been delivered. It all seemed in order and what should be expected from a reparable hospice company.
Because my client’s wife was elderly and not able to give bed care to her husband, I suggested that the family contact a local agency to send out home health aides to give the care, as well as assist with the general household tasks. I had been informed by my client’s son that all was well and his mother was indeed getting the help she needed.
You can imagine then, how surprised I was when I called the day after my client transitioned–as I had been requested to do–to find that my client’s wife was livid about the (less than expected) care she felt the hospice company had provided. She complained that the only actual care given by the case manager was assessment with vital signs taken. She said that when she was young, caring for the dying person was physical care and referred to as private duty nursing. She told me that she was very disappointed in hospice because they failed to do what was obviously needed, but that she was grateful that her son had arranged for home health aides.
My client’s wife is a very good example of how hospice is so misunderstood by the general public. Unfortunately, many of us feel that knowing about hospice is on a “need to know” basis and we will learn about it if the time comes. When we or a loved one is in need of hospice is not the time to learn about it!
At the very first visit with my client and his wife, I explained hospice in the manner that my book covers the topic, and gave a copy of the book as well. How did this issue get missed? How did she fail to understand that hospice does not provide daily care?
We are not at our “A” game at end of life, so dear reader, listen closely now when you can understand my words. Hospice is a medical model of care. Unlike its early days when tending to the physical needs of the dying person was the focus, today hospice provides many valuable services, but it does not offer the daily care of the dying person. At end of life, if your family will not be able to care for you, prepare to secure the services of a hired caregiver. For more detailed information on the subject of hospice, please read my book, Dying Made Easy(er).