When Hospice Might Not Be the Right Care Option

At Coastal Hospice, we’ve had the privilege of seeing firsthand how hospice care can bring comfort, peace, and guidance to people with terminal illness and their loved ones. For many people, hospice provides compassionate support physically, emotionally, and spiritually during the end-of-life journey – we also understand that hospice isn’t the best choice for everyone. Here are some indicators that hospice care might not be the right option:

  1. The patient wants to receive treatment. Since hospice focuses on quality of life and comfort, not curative intervention, patients wishing to receive treatment for a diagnosis are not a good fit for hospice care. The hospice approach is designed for people who do not want to continue or begin curative treatment for a terminal illness and prefer to live as fully and comfortably as possible with their care team’s support, while the illness progresses naturally.
  2. The illness is not terminal. Another key characteristic of hospice care is that a patient’s life expectancy is six months or less. If the patient or family has not received a doctor’s referral indicating it might be time to begin hospice or a diagnosed six-month life expectancy, the person may not be eligible for hospice care.
  3. The care needs are too complex. While we are uniquely experienced in providing holistic physical, mental, and emotional end-of-life care across a wide range of symptoms, certain illnesses include medical requirements that extend beyond the scope of hospice. Patients who need frequent advanced intervention, specialized equipment, therapy, or wound care, or substantial psychiatric or behavioral supervision, might not benefit enough from the care hospice offers.
  4. Lifestyle considerations. Other aspects of a patient’s life could mean hospice isn’t the best option, including overall lifestyle or environment. For example, they reside in a remote area where hospice care isn’t available – or, they or their loved ones might not be prepared to participate in hospice. The true impact of hospice can be realized most fully when patients receive care in alignment with their values and wishes, and when patients are actively supported by the people they love. If someone’s lifestyle circumstances or preferences conflict with hospice care, they should consider other options that might better support their needs.

As you consider hospice and its place in your or your loved one’s healthcare journey, it’s important to keep in mind the multitude of ways hospice can help. 

  • Hospice can help you or your loved one stay comfortable and manage pain, as well as other physical and psychological symptoms, from home or another familiar place; this limits the need for patients and caregivers to navigate repeat doctor’s office or emergency visits.
  • Hospice teams also care for patients’ and families’ emotional and spiritual needs through each unique end-of-life experience, including grief counseling and bereavement support for surviving loved ones.
  • Hospice allows a patient and their loved ones to make the most of their time together, pursuing quality of life rather than curative medical intervention.
  • When started at the right time, hospice’s holistic approach to comfort and well-being for the entire person and family may be associated with increased life expectancy for certain patients.

The choice to receive any type of medical care is multifaceted, and everyone’s wants, wishes, and needs are unique. It’s ultimately up to the patient or an appointed representative, in partnership with their healthcare professionals and chosen loved ones, to decide on a care approach that is both in their best interest and meets their wishes to the extent possible.

If you or a loved one have questions about whether hospice care is the right approach, we encourage you to discuss them with the patient’s doctor to weigh out the potential benefits of all your options based on the specific prognosis. We are also happy to answer any questions we can about the remarkable people here to serve you and the remarkable, compassionate care they provide our Coastal Georgia communities.

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