What happens when a hospice team comes to your home? Some families don’t want strangers to take care of someone they love. They may feel they’ve been doing the best they can, and now the job is taken away from them. They may imagine a team invading their privacy, like firefighters entering a burning house!

Dr. Diane Rapaport (photo courtesy of Diane Rapaport)

Dr. Diane Rapaport (photo courtesy of Diane Rapaport)

“Hospice at home is not like that,” says Diane Rapaport, MD, senior medical director for VITAS Innovative Hospice Care of Chicagoland NW. “Hospice team members come one at a time; they are there to help you take care of your loved one, not to take over. They will have the answers you need and they will be loving and confident with the patient. With every visit, things will get easier. You will find yourselves looking forward to each hospice worker’s arrival.”

Once the appropriate papers are signed and admissions orders received, the patient is officially admitted to hospice care. The hospice team communicates with the patient’s physician and the hospice physician to discuss medical history, current physical symptoms and life expectancy.

They consider all input—from the patient and family, from the physicians and from the medical evaluation—to develop the patient’s plan of care. That plan is reviewed regularly and revised based on how the patient is doing.

In the following few days:

  • A chaplain and social worker visit to add emotional, psychosocial and spiritual assessments to the plan of care
  • Regular visits by individual members of the team are scheduled
  • Any necessary home medical equipment is delivered
  • Any necessary medications are delivered
  • You will receive information on how to manage the patient’s symptoms and contact the hospice if you have a question or need a visit from a team member

(Provided by VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, which provides hospice care to patients and families throughout the Chicagoland area. Go to VITAS.com/Illinois.)

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