For most of us, home is a place of safety and retreat. It's where we find comfort in friends, family and the routines of daily life.
Patients often tell us they fear losing their independence. This loss of control is an important reason why many people prefer to be at home in their final days, surrounded by family and friends.
In-home hospice can be challenging, but you don't have to shoulder the responsibilities alone. The first step is talking with a hospice provider to match your expectations with their services. Make a list and don't be afraid to ask questions.
- What services can we expect from nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains and volunteers?
- How often will they visit?
- Are staff available after hours, on weekends or during emergencies?
- What is expected of family caregivers?
- What if we need respite care or care becomes too complex?
Find a place for the equipment that gives both the caregiver and the patient the best access to day-to-day needs. In fact, most decisions about preparing the home should balance the needs of both the caregiver and patient. Eliminating barriers for the caregiver leads to less stress and more time for important moments together.
Medical equipment may include:
- Hospital bed
- Wheel chair
- Geriatric chair
- Oxygen equipment
- Shower chair
- Bedside commode
Medicare covers the cost of the equipment, delivery and set up.
- Privacy is still important for most patients. Screens or curtains can help.
- Make it easy to moderate sound, light and temperature.
- A comfortable chair with arms for watching television, reading or visiting.
- Headphones for the television or music help those with hearing loss.
- Access to snacks and drinks.
Safety for patients and caregivers
- Remove rugs and tripping hazards from hallways and rooms.
- Get nightlights to illuminate hallways and baths.
- Install non-slip bath mats.
- Consider adding grab bars or hand rails and ensure they meet safety codes.
- Make room for medical equipment.
A plan for the family caregiver
- Make a folder for medical records and contact numbers.
- Encourage visits from family and friends, as long as you and your loved one are up for visits.
- Volunteers are available for companionship, running errands and more.
- Your hospice team can help you organize and manage medicines.
- It’s not too late to complete an advance directive or living will.
- Hospice providers can help you plan for short-term respite (relief) care for breaks or vacations.
- Wall-mounted, voice-activated or wearable monitoring technology can help with 24/7 safety.
- Reach out to your church or faith community for help.
Key points to remember
- Ask for help from family, friends or the hospice team.
- Embrace your time together.
- Get your rest and eat right. What’s good for the caregiver is good for those in their care.
- What hospice caregivers need to know
- Caregiving at life’s end: facing the challenges
- Emotional landmines and how to weather them
- Supplies you may need for home hospice
- Caring Info by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization includes tools for hospice planning, caregiving and grief support