After decades of caring for people during the last weeks or months of their lives, hospice is still seen by many as the referral of ‘last resort’. Frequently, we get a call only when death is expected within hours or days.
Why does this happen? Physicians may be unsure of when a hospice referral might be appropriate, or hesitate to introduce the subject. Patients and families may feel that a referral must come from a physician and hesitate to call hospice themselves.
Hospice caregivers often say that they wish they had known about hospice earlier.
Here are the benefits of an early hospice referral:
- Better pain and symptom control
- Spiritual and emotional support during the dying process
- Better patient satisfaction and quality of life
Often patients live longer, fuller lives with hospice care than they would have by continuing aggressive treatment with its associated side effects and time spent away from home. The hospice team also supports caregivers and helps them feel confident in their ability to care for their loved one.