For Patients and Families

Understanding Hospice

Arranging hospice care for you or a loved one is never an easy decision to make. At Ascend Hospice, our goal is to provide essential information necessary to make the best end-of-life choices possible, as well as to support you throughout this tough time in your life.

What is Hospice?

Hospice is a comprehensive program of medical care and emotional/spiritual support for patients and families facing a life-limiting illness. Emphasizing palliative care (pain relief or symptom control), hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, medical social workers, spiritual counselors, nursing assistants, volunteers and as necessary, dieticians, and physical, occupational and speech therapists. Here at Ascend Hospice, we are dedicated to providing the best possible care every step of the way.

Who is in Need of Hospice Care?

According to the Hospice Foundation of America, approximately two-thirds of hospice patients are over the age of 65. There are many circumstances that suggest a person’s need for hospice care, including, but not limited to:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Cardiac disease
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Parkinson’s disease and other neurological diseases
  • Renal disease
  • Liver disease
  • Stroke
  • ALS
  • HIV/AIDS

How Does Hospice Work?

The hospice process can begin as soon as a referral is made by the patient’s doctor. The hospice staff will then contact the patient and/or family to set up an initial meeting to review the offered services, perform a clinical assessment of the patient and sign necessary paperwork.

After setting up a thorough care plan based on each patient’s individual clinical, psychosocial and spiritual needs, the care team begins to support and look after the patient and the family. At Ascend Hospice, members of the hospice team also specialize in providing holistic care to dying patients and their families, addressing the needs of the whole patient: mind, body and spirit. Each hospice team is staffed with a medical director who oversees the provision of the patient’s care plan by the hospice team, regularly consulting with each team member. At Ascend Hospice, nearly all of our medical directors are board certified in hospice and palliative medicine. The patient’s physician remains in charge of the patient’s overall medical care and frequently communicates with the hospice nurse.

The hospice nurse has several jobs, including, but not limited to, managing the patient’s symptoms, medications and treatments, educating the patient and family, providing skilled nursing care, assessing the patient’s physical condition and arranging for special medical services in the care setting. Home health aides assist with the patient’s personal care (dressing, bathing, etc.), provide companionship and offer comfort measures to the patient. Social workers provide emotional support to the patient and his/her family through customized counseling and offer connections to additional community resources available. Patients are also assessed and visited by a staff chaplain who provide spiritual comfort to both the patient and family.

Volunteers
support patients and their families in less traditional roles, such as running errands, making friendly visits and simply providing companionship. At Ascend Hospice, many of our volunteers also provide holistic therapies, including aromatherapy, massage, Reiki and pet therapy.

Ascend Hospice believes our most important relationships start with our patients and their families. To learn more about our hospice care programs and services, please contact us any time at 866.821.1212, email or fill out our convenient online form. Our team of professionals will be happy to meet and discuss the many benefits of hospice and answer any questions you might have regarding our alternative approach to hospice care.