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Choose Hospice Early to Focus on Time With Loved Ones

Laura Templeton

From individualized care plans to bereavement support for loved ones, many people are unaware of the many ways hospice can touch lives. Compassus Senior Vice President, Chief Clinical Operations Officer Laura Templeton recently shared her insights with The Tennessean about the importance of planning for hospice before it’s needed.

How many of us would live differently if given six months to live? 

As a nurse and clinical leader in hospice, I see firsthand the positive impact hospice has on people with life-limiting conditions.

I’m both grateful and heartbroken every time I hear someone say they wish they’d known about hospice sooner. I also want people to have the opportunity to live differently if they knew they had six months to live. 

What is Hospice?

Hospice is designed for patients with a terminal prognosis and life expectancy of six months or less to live.

In hospice, our job is to empower patients with life-limiting conditions to live as fully as possible. Hospice caregivers are dedicated to delivering comfort, safety, quality of life to our patients.

To help patients reach their goals, a range of professionals provide individualized care through an interdisciplinary team. Among the providers for hospice patients are physicians, nurses, aides, social workers, dieticians, chaplains, volunteers and more.

They work together and with patients’ other health care providers to address patients’ greatest concerns, whether easing pain, managing medication side effects or simply providing the uplifting effect of other people’s company. They can also connect patients with other resources like advance care planning, food assistance and more.

Hospice also includes bereavement services for family members to support them through the grief process. Bereavement specialists help loved ones process their grief journey through counseling and support groups. They can also guide families through the sometimes complex responsibilities related to wills, probates, estates and more.

Benefits of hospice care

At a time when more people prefer to receive care where they live, hospice is available wherever patients call home so they can focus on the time they have with loved ones.

Hospice care at home is usually less expensive, more convenient and can be just as effective as care received in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Overall, hospice patients have fewer unnecessary hospitalizations, with care focused on the therapies that align with their wishes.

Hospice is a fully funded benefit for Medicare and Medicaid members and covered by many private insurance and VA plans. Most plans cover hospice visits, medications, supplies and equipment with no or few out-of-pocket costs for patients.

Learn more

I encourage everyone to learn more about hospice before they or a loved one need it. For those with potentially life-limiting illnesses, it’s important to talk to your doctor about hospice so you can work together to determine your goals for care and agree on a path forward. You should also talk to your loved ones.

This discussion is essential to ensuring the people most important to you will understand your wishes and goals.

Hospice caregivers support patients and their loved ones during some of the most profound times in their lives. If you or a loved one has received a life-limiting diagnosis, I encourage you to visit the Hospice Foundation of America to begin learning more.