How to Talk to Your Patients about Hospice
For many patients and their families, hearing the word “hospice” invokes a fearful response. This fear is usually due to the many myths surrounding hospice: that it’s only for people who are in their “final moments,” that it’s only for individuals with very painful cancers or that it means the end of all hope.
Cypress Hospice seeks to change these misconceptions about hospice, and to educate individuals that hospice is a philosophy of care that seeks to honor the dignity of an individual and their loved ones while creating beautiful, positive moments. Hospice is not a “death sentence.” Rather, it’s about coming together to celebrate life’s journey.
Since many still believe in the myths about hospice, approaching the topic with your patients and their loved ones can be difficult. Here are a few tips on how to begin the conversation:
- Talk about the holistic nature of hospice. Explain that it’s not just physical care (helping with pain and managing other symptoms), but also provides spiritual and emotional support.
- Talk about hospice as early as possible with your patient. People mistakenly believe that hospice is only for final moments or very ill patients, but in fact, hospice can be recommended up to six months before an end of life prognosis.
- Remind your patient and their loved ones that you will not be out of the equation and that they are often not uprooting their current location, situation or other circumstances. You will still be their primary care physician; Cypress Hospice will be the hospice team that works closely with you in conjunction with our palliative care.
- Let your patients know that they don’t have to be “ready” for hospice. We never expect our patients to be “ready,” only eligible to begin hospice care, which can help to add positive experiences to their lives.
- Your patients or their loved ones may be concerned about comfort. Will they have to go anywhere to receive hospice? Will they have to move to a new facility? Talk to your patients and let them know that hospice is all about their comfort. Palliative care ideally reduces hospital visits and helps to keep a patient comfortable in their own homes or current living place.