By Natalia Hernandez, Director of Market Development, VITAS Healthcare
A main concern for most people faced with terminal illness is whether they’ll be able to die wherever they call “home.” Hospice care helps eliminate that worry, making it possible for people to spend their final moments of life alongside the people they know and love, in the midst of their familiar routines.
As a leading pioneer in the national hospice movement since 1978, VITAS Healthcare is dedicated to helping terminally ill patients remain comfortable at home or in their preferred surroundings, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities or residential care communities.
In addition, VITAS offers support to families and caregivers to make certain they are equipped with resources and information about hospice and what to expect when caring for a loved one at the end of life by providing answers to commonly asked questions, such as:
- How will pain be managed? Hospice is an end-of-life care option for terminally ill patients diagnosed with six months or less to live. It is tailored to the unique needs of each patient and family and includes expert pain management, but also goes beyond medical care, by providing emotional and spiritual support. The care is provided by interdisciplinary teams of palliative care experts, including physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, bereavement specialists and volunteers.
- If the patient prefers to remain at home, what kind of assistance and in-home care will be available? Routine home care is available in accordance to the patient’s individualized plan of care. Continuous care, during a brief period of crisis, can be available for up to 24 hours a day. When patients or family members have questions or concerns after business hours, they can often get immediate answers and help by calling an after-hours service.
- What is the role of family members when their loved one is on hospice care? Family members play an important role by providing personal care to their loved one when hospice teams are not present. The hospice team does not “take over,” rather they teach and support families so they can provide the best in-home care possible. Hospice teams realize that no one knows the patient better than their family.
- What does hospice care cost? Does insurance cover it? Medicare pays for hospice services. Many states have established Medicaid coverage for hospice, and almost all private insurers and managed care plans provide coverage for hospice care as well.
VITAS’ hospice professionals work diligently to make sure family members have all the information and support they need during this difficult time, including access to a variety of local workshops geared toward caregivers.
The VITAS Central Florida team takes great pride in its hospice program and provides care to approximately 1200 patients daily in Seminole, Orange and Osceola Counties. With two convenient offices in Maitland and Kissimmee, including a hospice inpatient unit in Winter Garden, VITAS is well prepared to handle even the most complex, challenging patient situations and also provides the following services:
- Inpatient hospice unit care when a patient needs care beyond what can be provided at home, giving the family an opportunity to receive respite care in order to avoid “caregiver burnout.”
- Specialized therapies such as pet, music and massage therapy can be available depending on the patient’s plan of care.
Aside from helping families with the physical demands of caring for a loved one nearing the end of life, hospice also provides spiritual, social and emotional support to patients and families. Many psychological, spiritual and emotional aspects of end-of-life experiences can be very difficult for patients and their loved ones. For that reason, every VITAS hospice team includes a social worker and chaplain with extensive training and experience in psychosocial counseling, spiritual awareness, end-of-life issues and bereavement.
Since 1996, VITAS has helped define and continuously elevate the standards of care for hospice throughout Central Florida and is dedicated to ensuring that everyone who qualifies for hospice can access this important service. For more information about hospice care or VITAS Healthcare, visit www.VITAS.com or call (407) 875-0028.