Hospices help more than patient

Published 3:35 pm Monday, February 16, 2009

Hospices serve more than cancer patients. And they provide encouragement and support to the patients’ families as well.

That was part of the message Rose LeCoq of Alacare Home Health and Hospice shared with members of Senior Circle during their Valentine Party last week.

“Many times family members are reluctant to call in hospice; often it is the patient who is the first one to say, ‘We need this.'” LeCoq said.

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Hospice is for those in the end-of-life process, but the amount of time hospice serves patients and their families can vary, she said.

“A person might be served for two days to two years – and yes, sometimes people improve and actually ‘graduate’ out of hospice, such as a cancer patient who goes into remission,” LeCoq said.

By the same token, she said, patients who had moved out of hospice and again needed their services at a later date would be accepted back into hospice.

Because hospice deals with end-of-life care, it focuses on “treating the symptoms, not finding a cure.”

“We want to ensure that patient is as free from pain as possible, and to serve as their advocate,” LeCoq said.

Assisting the patient’s family is another important part of hospice, she added.

“We have social workers, nurses and chaplains in place to work with the family unit through this process, and it doesn’t end when the patient passes away. It’s in place from the moment a person signs up until 13 months after their death,” LeCoq explained.

“It’s important for the patient’s peace of mind to know his or her family is going to be OK.”

She said the hospice always keeps at least two individuals on call in case of emergency.

“Never feel bad about calling us in the middle of the night. Wake us up, we want to be as proactive as possible,” LeCoq said.