Most of us find peace in the simple routines of daily life. It’s one reason why almost 8 of 10 Americans say they would prefer to be at home in their final days.
To be honest, in-home hospice can be challenging. Experience shows us that starting the hospice conversation early and planning for the practical challenges reduces stress for both patients and their caregivers. Our checklist below includes steps for preparing your home and yourself for a more peaceful hospice journey.
You are not alone
The good news is that your hospice team offers support before, during and after hospice. Team members who may come to your home include:
- registered nurse
- nurse aides
- social worker to help you with lots of practical details
- chaplain for spiritual care and support
- volunteers to help with errands and many other tasks
- bereavement coordinator
- Remove rugs and tripping hazards from hallways and rooms
- Nightlights to illuminate the way
- Non-slip bath mats
- Consider adding grab bars or hand rails and ensure they meet safety codes
- Make room for medical equipment
Easing burdens by providing necessary equipment
Your hospice provider may request equipment for patients. Medicare covers the cost of the equipment, delivery and set up.
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 decision 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. Some of the equipment provided includes:
- Hospital Bed
- Wheel Chair
- Shower Chair
- Bedside Commode
- 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
A plan for the hospice 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.
- Caregiving at life’s end: facing the challenges
- Along the final journey, a guide for families and caregivers
- Emotional landmines and how to weather them
- Where to begin
- Caringinfo.org by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization includes tools for planning, care and bereavement.
- Download this checklist as a PDF (PDF, 210 KB)
Hospice is a fully covered Medicare benefit. Coverage includes nurses, other caregivers, medicines, supplies and medical equipment, with no out-of-pocket expenses.