For Hospice Patients & Their Families
Information from Mary Washington Healthcare
Hospice care has been shown to help the whole family. By providing supportive
care to the patient, family members are able to feel like they are a part
of the care process and experience fewer feelings of helplessness. Additionally,
patients benefit from the comfort and care of family members that is supplemented
by outside help.
Mary Washington Hospice staff work closely with the family to provide:
- End of Life Planning
- Spiritual Support
- Bereavement Services
- Support Groups
When is Hospice Needed?
Hospice services can make more of a difference to a patient’s comfort
and quality of life when the hospice is given more time to care for them
and their and family.
Consider hospice if the following symptoms are present:
- Instead of helping, treatments often cause further discomfort and pain.
- Serious symptoms and other symptoms become increasingly tough to manage.
- Symptoms such as severe fatigue, sustained weight loss, trouble with daily
personal care, struggled breathing or swallowing, or continual fluid buildup
- Rather than cure a disease, the patient wishes to improve his or her quality of life.
- Family members are overwhelmed by providing daily care for the loved one.
- Family members feel they would benefit from professional guidance and support.
Starting the Conversation
Most hospice patients have less than 6 months to live. When a patient or
family feels like Hospice is the next step for them, the patient’s
physician needs to be involved. A physician must refer a patient to Hospice
before the process can begin.
View this video
from local physicians and hospice families who support early hospice care
for terminally ill patients.
For more information from family members who have experienced hospice care
from Mary Washington Healthcare, watch the videos below:
The Patient Self-Determination Act was passed by Congress in 1990. Under
this act, health care institutions are required to inform their patients
and their communities about their rights to make decisions concerning
their medical care. Accepting care, refusing care, and making advance
directives about their care are included under these rights.
The Virginia Health Care Decisions Act allows you to make two types of
decisions about your health care in an advance directive:
First Type of Decision: If you are ever diagnosed with a terminal condition and are incapable
of making your own decisions, you have the right to create a living will
in advance. This is essentially a document that communicates whether or
not you want life-prolonging procedures.
Second Type of Decision: If you can’t make treatment decisions due to a medical condition,
you can name someone in advance to make those decisions for you. This
is often referred to as a health care proxy, a medical power of attorney,
or a durable.
Whoever is named in this second type of decision is given power to make
decisions you would have made in the same situation if you were able.
In some cases, you can put parameters around the decisions that the person
named is allowed to make. The law prohibits the person you choose from
making decisions that would contradict your religious convictions, basic
values, and spoken preferences. You may also choose a person to ensure
that your organs or body are donated after your death.
Please remember to bring your or your loved one's advance directive
to the hospital.
Mary Washington Hospice offers comprehensive bereavements services for
thirteen months following the death of your loved one. Some people prefer
to grieve privately. Others find that having someone to talk with about
the loss can help.
Our bereavement team will maintain contact with your family, in a respectful
manner, offering assistance over the phone, through short term counseling,
through quarterly bereavement newsletters and written information about
coping with grief, as well as referrals to community resources.