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Hospice and Palliative Care Resources

A Challenging Conversation

A Challenging Conversation – Discussing Hospice & Palliative Care

Advance Care Planning
In this section, we will guide you through initiating and conducting meaningful discussions about hospice and palliative care with your loved ones. At Calvary, we emphasize the crucial role of advanced care planning. In our day-to-day work, we see how these conversations make a meaningful impact on the lives of those receiving care.

Conversations about Advanced Care Planning must be thoughtful, supportive, and deliberate.

1. Planning Your Care: The First Step

Objective: Understanding the crucial role of advanced care planning in ensuring that you or your loved one’s healthcare preferences are known, respected, and honored.

Steps to Take:

  • Begin by documenting your wishes, values, and healthcare goals.
  • Consider several common healthcare challenges and scenarios to explore and express your wishes more fully.
  • Document and share your end-of-life care plan with your family and loved ones to ensure your voice is heard.

The Five Wishes Advance Directive Document has gained widespread recognition for its user-friendly format, which makes it accessible to individuals from all walks of life. Renowned as an invaluable resource, it not only simplifies the process but also serves as a comprehensive framework for discussing medical, emotional, spiritual, and communication preferences.

2. Recognizing When to Consider Hospice or Palliative Care

Objective: Determining the right time to consider hospice and palliative care is a nuanced and personalized process that involves consultation with healthcare professionals.

There are some general indicators and factors that may suggest the need for these types of care.

Hospice Care:

  • Terminal Illness: Hospice care is typically appropriate for individuals diagnosed with a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less, as determined by a healthcare provider.
  • Frequent Hospitalizations: If someone with a serious illness is experiencing recurrent hospital stays without improvement, hospice care may provide a more comforting and supportive option.
  • Symptom Management: When symptoms like pain, breathlessness, or nausea become challenging to control despite medical interventions, hospice care can offer effective symptom relief.
  • Declining Health: A significant decline in overall health and daily functioning, indicating a shift from curative treatments to enhancing the quality of life, often indicates the appropriateness of hospice care.

Palliative Care:

  • Serious Illness: Palliative care can benefit individuals with serious illnesses, regardless of their life expectancy, by offering relief from symptoms and an improved quality of life.
  • Pain and Symptom Management: When pain, discomfort, or other distressing symptoms significantly affect daily life, palliative care can assist in managing these symptoms.
  • Complex Medical Conditions: Palliative care is valuable for individuals dealing with intricate medical conditions that require a comprehensive approach to care and symptom management.
  • Supportive Care: Palliative care can be considered concurrently with curative treatments to provide additional support and enhance the overall well-being of the patient.

Engaging in clear and open dialogue with your healthcare provider or a specialized palliative care team is essential to determine when to consider hospice or palliative care accurately.

These professionals are equipped to evaluate the unique medical circumstances, needs, and personal goals of the individual, aiding in the decision-making process for initiating these supportive services.

The primary goal of hospice and palliative care is to offer comfort, provide support, and enhance quality of life. Therefore, initiating conversations early and having a plan is a crucial step in securing the best possible outcome and highest standard of care for you or your loved one.

3. Initiating the Conversation with a Loved One

Objective: Practical guidance on discussing the topic of hospice or palliative care with a loved one.

Steps to Take:

  • Approach the subject with care in a comfortable and supportive environment.
  • Express your sincere concern for your loved one’s well-being and express genuine interest in learning about their preferences for care.
  • Ask for permission: Each of us cope with end-of-life issues differently. By asking permission to discuss this topic, you are conveying that you will respect the other person’s wishes. Listen to each other and be honest with your feelings.

4. Addressing Questions and Concerns

Objective: Encouraging open dialogue by addressing common concerns and questions about hospice and palliative care.

Steps to Take:

  • Seek answers to your questions by consulting with healthcare professionals or trusted sources.
  • Address any fears or misconceptions you or your loved one may have by seeking reliable information.

5. Involving Your Healthcare Team

Objective: Emphasizing the importance of including healthcare professionals in your care decisions.

Steps to Take:

  • Reach out to your doctors and healthcare team for guidance, recommendations, and support when considering hospice or palliative care.
  • Collaborate with them to develop a care plan that aligns with your preferences and needs.

Remember, these steps are empowering and are taken by you and your loved ones to help in making informed decisions, ensuring that the hospice or palliative care you receive aligns with your specific goals and values.

Read more about Hospice and Palliative Care