I am Jill Jones, administrator of Quality Hospice Care. Thank you for visiting our blog. This blog is used to dispel myths and provide education regarding hospice services. Did you know that hospice patients do NOT have to be homebound to receive hospice services?  “Homebound” is one of the differences between hospice and home health services according to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). As a matter of fact, Quality Hospice Care encourages their patients to be as active as possible. Traveling outside the home – as far away as they want to – is encouraged.

Hospice focuses on caring – not curing. It addresses more than the physical or medical needs of the hospice patient. In addition to the physical needs, hospice focuses on the mental, spiritual, and social needs of the patient, their family, and caregiver(s). Each patient has an individualized care plan specific to them and their situation. This care plan is continuously updated by the Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) composed of a medical doctor, registered nurse, chaplain, and social worker. Additional hospice employees often join the IDT meeting to provide additional information.

I’ve gotten a little of course with this article which I tend to do often. Now let’s return to the homebound status. Quality Hospice Care loves for their patients to be able to check off their bucket list items. Everyone’s bucket list is as unique as they are. Some have adrenaline pumping items such as skydiving or ziplining. Others dream of being able to re-live things from their childhood such as visiting a farm or riding the backroads of their hometown. A common bucket list item is seeing the ocean. Quality Hospice Care will work with the patient and their family to make these dreams a reality. Hospice is unique as they can facilitate a traveling patient agreement with a Medicare-certified hospice in the service area that will be the patient’s travel destination. For instance, if a patient would like to visit Panama City Beach, Florida we would contact a hospice agency in that area to be available for our patient during their visit. We would also prepare the patient for the visit by making sure their medication and equipment would be available to them.

This brings me to the following question: “when should hospice start?” A person is eligible for hospice care when a physician determines that the person has a “terminal prognosis.” A terminal prognosis is defined as an illness, or combination of illnesses, with a life expectancy of six months or less if the disease runs its expected course. According to the National Institute on Aging, starting hospice early may be able to provide months of meaningful care and quality time with loved ones. Oftentimes a person enrolls in hospice care during their final days of life. This does not give the hospice agency an opportunity to provide the support and education that it is capable of.

During its 10 years of operation, Quality Hospice Care has assisted in making many dreams come true for our patients. I would like to share a few of these with you as they are special to the staff.

  • We had a patient with a child-like mentality that loved the Disney movie “Frozen” and she especially loved the character of Elsa. Quality Hospice Care was able to arrange for “Elsa” to go the patient’s house on her birthday and sing “Happy Birthday”. The patient got up & danced with Elsa much to everyone’s delight as her sister said she had not been very responsive to anyone in the days previous
  • Several hospice employees attended a birthday party for one of our patients. The patient’s husband hired a live band and provided a meal. There was not a dry eye in attendance when the husband & wife danced to slow song as this patient was normally confined to her wheelchair
  • We have had multiple patients that were encouraged to go fishing, deer hunting and 4-wheeler riding as this is the pastimes they had enjoyed prior to being told they had a terminal prognosis
  • One of the favorite stories of Quality Hospice Care is a man and woman that had cohabitated for years. He wanted to, in his words, “make an honest woman out of her”.  So, what did hospice employees do? They coordinated a wedding of course – complete with a cake and flowers. Once again, not a dry eye in attendance
  • Over the years, Quality Hospice Care has assisted patients to travel to see grandchildren graduate, visit the beach and attend family reunions to name just a few

Quality Hospice Care’s motto is “when quality time really matters.” We believe this, and it shows, in the care we provide. Most hospice care is provided in the place the patient calls home. It is an honor to be able to go into a patient’s home to provide a connection to the local community, culture, and resources. As we are getting back to “normalcy” following the COVID-19 epidemic we learned many, many things as our country navigated this uncharted territory.  Healthcare was constantly changing – often from hour to hour. Who would have ever thought that physician visits could be done via telehealth? Having that capability was helpful to many people. However, we also realized that all the data and technology in the world cannot replace the human touch and the emotions associated with that touch. Personal interaction and care cannot be measured – it can only be experienced. Many people felt the isolation experienced was much worse than the actual disease of COVID-19.

According to Jon Allred, Sr. Vice President of Operations for the Quality Family of Companies. “Hospice care is a ministry. It touches people in a time of their life when kindness, compassion and support is needed.”