Medical professionals often find it difficult to speak with a terminally ill patient and their loved ones about hospice. Just knowing when and how to address the subject is only the start, so oftentimes the idea is postponed. But entering hospice care early can yield a much better quality of life for the patient and help prepare them and their loved ones for the coming end of life.
How to Initiate a Hospice Talk
Before initiating a conversation with the patient, try to be sure that other providers are in agreement about recommending hospice. It is important to be sensitive to the challenging position the patient and their loved ones are in, and having to make a decision amidst differing opinions of medical professionals can amplify the stress.
When you are ready to initiate the hospice talk with the patient:
- Try to arrange for a time when the patient is likely to be fully alert and, if possible, family members or loved ones are able to be present.
- Review the medical facts with the patient, including the present condition and prognosis. Be prepared for questions about options for ongoing treatment.
- Verify that the patient and support system understand the prognosis and the options, and ask about the patient’s wishes moving forward. Many patients will need additional time to process the new information, so don’t expect an immediate answer.
- If appropriate, introduce hospice. This consideration can be unfamiliar, so patients can be directed to our website for additional information and resources that relate to hospice care.
For medical professionals who want to consider recommending hospice to a patient, it’s important to realize that you do not need to have all the answers. The hospice professionals at Shining Light Hospice are available to work with you to help you decide if hospice is appropriate and advise you with how to approach suggesting hospice care to a patient. Just contact us, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.