Hospice Care for Cancer Patients

Posted on Apr 20, 2018

While medical researchers have made great strides in cancer research, there often comes a point in which treatments are no longer effective and remission is out of reach. When a patient reaches this point, hospice can be a great benefit. The goal of hospice care for cancer patients is not to cure the disease, but rather to do whatever we can to make the patient comfortable in their final stages of life. This palliative care approach can often increase the patient’s quality of life and offers several other benefits.

Financial Assistance

Going through cancer treatments can be expensive even with the best insurance. Thankfully, hospice care is a Medicare benefit, which means patients and their families rarely have to pay anything out of pocket for hospice care.

Pain Management

A very common service provided to hospice patients with cancer is pain management. Hospice teams are specially trained to help patients cope with the physical and mental effects of chronic pain. When pain becomes very severe, we can offer 24/7 care, called continuous care, to ensure the patient’s pain is managed.

Bereavement

Hospice and palliative care is designed to treat all the needs of a patient, not just the physical symptoms. With that in mind, bereavement counseling is offered to patients and their families. This service can help everyone cope with the grief and depression that can accompany end of life care.

Respite Care

Caring for a loved one while they have cancer, or any terminal illness, can be exhausting. To help family members get a break from the demands of caregiving, hospices offer respite care. This is a level of care that allows the patient to receive up to five days of inpatient care to give the family caregivers some time to rest.

Going through end of life care and switching to a palliative care method can bring about some uncertainty. If you have questions about hospice care for cancer patients, please give Cura-HPC a call. One of our staff members will be happy to assist you and answer any questions you may have.  

What is Palliative Care?

Posted on Apr 18, 2018

palliative care

Simply defined, palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is a special form of medical treatment designed for patients with serious illnesses. The goal of palliative care is not to cure the illnesses, but rather to alleviate the symptoms and make the patient as comfortable as possible. Palliative care is most commonly applied in a hospice setting for terminally ill patients.

Quality of Life

By treating the pain and suffering caused by terminal illnesses, palliative care professionals are able to improve the patient’s quality of life. This treatment method isn’t only focused on physical pain; it also includes mental health symptoms like grief and depression.

A Team Effort

Palliative care is typically administered by a team of end of life care experts. This team includes a medical director, nurses, social workers, aids, bereavement councilors, and even volunteers. A palliative care team will often work in conjunction with other medical professionals such as a patient’s primary care physician. This team approach offers a comprehensive plan for end of life care.

Not Just the Patient

One of the more unique aspects of palliative care is that it is designed for the entire family, not just the patient. Helping a loved one through end of life care can take an emotional toll on a family, which is why bereavement and grief counseling are offered to family members of hospice patients during the patient’s enrollment and for 12 months after the patient passes away.

Making the decision to switch from a curative style of medical treatment to purely palliative care can sometimes be a tough decision. Families often feel like they’re giving up on their loved one. However, it’s important to remember that palliative care will increase the patient’s quality of life and you will have access to medical professionals who specialize in managing end of life symptoms like chronic pain and depression.

If you have questions about palliative care or are in need of a Tulsa hospice for your loved one, please call Cura-HPC today.

Preparing to be a Health Care Proxy

Posted on Apr 06, 2018

Being named as a health care proxy for a loved one is an incredible responsibility. You will have to be an effective decision maker and potentially make some hard calls. If you find yourself in this situation and are feeling a bit overwhelmed, here are a few tips.

Know What They Value Most

It might be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but understanding what you loved one values during end of life care will help inform your decision making. Find out if they prefer to be at home or in a hospital, if they want life support, and if there’s any kind of treatment they do not want to undergo.

Plan Ahead

Trying to answer a difficult question at a moment’s notice will only add to your stress. To eliminate this stress, try to think through as many situations as you can and decide what you want to do if that happens. Obviously, you won’t be able to prepare for every situation, but the more prepared you are, the easier it will be.

Talk with Family Members

You might have to make a decision your family members don’t agree with, and you need to be ready for those conversations. Having these conversations in advance will give you time to explain your reasoning and allow family members to slowly accept your decision, should it come to that.

Being a health care proxy can feel overwhelming. That’s one of the reasons we offer bereavement counseling to patients and their family members. This counseling can help you cope with the stress and grief of making these tough decisions. 

Avoiding Caregiver Burnout with Respite Care

Posted on Mar 19, 2018

Being a caregiver for a dying loved one can be a fulltime job. With all the responsibilities and emotions involved in caring for a loved one, sometimes caregivers just need a break. This is a common problem and Medicare created a level of care called respite care to meet this need. With respite care, family caregivers get a break from their caregiving duties while the patient is cared for in a Medicare-certified inpatient facility.

When is Respite Care Allowed?

The official Medicare definition of respite care is, “short-term inpatient care provided to the individual only when necessary to relieve the family members or the person caring for the individual at home.” Qualifying events include:

  • Caregivers becoming sick
  • Emotional or physical fatigue from continually caring for the loved one
  • Needing to attend an important event such as a wedding, jury duty, graduation, or funeral

How Does Respite Care Avoid Burnout?

When a patient is accepted for respite care, Medicare will pay for them to stay in a Medicare-certified facility for up to five days. This provides family caregivers with some free time to rest and get recharged. Knowing the patient is receiving around the clock care from trained professionals can come as a great relief to caregivers who have spent months as the primary caregiver for the patient.

Who Cares for the Patient?

While in the care of the Medicare-certified facility, the regular hospice team will continue to administer the care plan they created, while the facility staff members will fill the role normally played by the family caregiver.  

We understand that caregiver burnout is a real thing, which is why we encourage family members to take advantage of respite care when qualifying situations allow. At Cura-HPC, we want to help families through this difficult time by limiting the emotional stress and physical demands of having a loved one in hospice care. If you need hospice care for your loved one, please call Cura-HPC.

Pain Management in Palliative Care

Posted on Mar 19, 2018

The World Health Organization defines palliative care as, an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

To put it simply, the goal of palliative care is to make the patient as comfortable as possible. As you might imagine, a large part of making patients comfortable is managing the chronic pain that often accompanies end of life care. Not every hospice patient will experience chronic pain, but the hospice team at Cura-HPC will assess the patient’s pain level on a regular basis to see if any care plan adjustments are needed.

To assess the patient’s pain, there are several scales a hospice team can use: 0-10 Numeric Pain Rating Scale, the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale, and the FLACC scale. Each scale has its own advantages and will be used to best assess the pain of the patient.

Once the level of pain has been assessed, we can start treating the patient. A common pain management technique is using medication. By using the right dosage and type of medication, we can block the pain receptors in the brain and decrease the feeling of pain. Some of the most common types of pain medications used to treat chronic pain are:

  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Methadone
  • Hydromorphone

Anytime medication is used, we take precautions to ensure patients are not over medicated. While we want to manage the pain as much as possible, we also want patients to be coherent enough to spend meaningful time with their family.

Another method used to treat pain is by tending to the emotional symptoms of pain. Depression and anxiety are often associated with end of life care, and these two factors can worsen the physical pain a patient may be experiencing. By offering grief counseling and bereavement care, depression and anxiety can be better managed.

If your loved one is in need of hospice and palliative care, call Cura-HPC.