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 tell us they fear losing control over their lives and not being able to stay at home after a serous illness. This loss of independence is an important reason why most Americans say they 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. Hospice experts can help you before, during and after you decide on in-home care. The first step is sharing your goals for care with the hospice provider. Make a list and don't be afraid to ask questions. Your hospice care team can help you get the house ready, order medical equipment and organize visits from nurses, chaplains, aides and others.
Your hospice provider will request medical equipment. 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 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 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.
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.
- 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.
Hospice is a fully covered Medicare benefit.
Coverage includes nurses, other caregivers, medical equipment, supplies and medication related to the hospice diagnosis, with no out-of-pocket expenses.