When Is It Time For Hospice Care?

When a loved one becomes ill, you don’t always have the energy to think about logistics, how you will handle the future, or much less, when to use hospice care. It is much more important to enjoy the laughs, smiles, and intimate moments you have with them. By gathering information about when to call hospice, you can be sure that everyone involved is prepared so that when that time does come, there is more focus on that precious remaining time spent together.

What Is Hospice Care?

The focus of children’s hospice care is to enhance the quality of life by providing patients and their families with services that can help cope with terminal illnesses. These services can include physical and emotional treatments, as well as spiritual support to ease the lives of everyone involved. This could include anything from the medication requested for the illness to counseling services and music therapy.

Children’s hospice care specifically serves children diagnosed with a condition which doctors have determined their life expectancy of less than six months. It is available only to those at end-of-life stages who are no longer prolonging their treatments, and looking to focus on supporting medical decisions, along with mental and physical care. Not only does hospice care provide services for the child who is ill, but it provides services to the families and loved ones as well.

Signs Someone Is Ready For Hospice Care

Hospice care is available to anyone who has limited life expectancy, even if they are continuing with curative care and treatments. Even if you don’t think it is time, it can be beneficial to communicate with hospice care programs to simply talk about end-of-life care issues. Hospice will give any information they can and, with permission, will contact your doctor to talk about hospice options if and when that time comes.

There are a few signs that can be clear indicators of when it is time to consider hospice care. In order to show up for your loved one, it is essential that you care for yourself as well as your loved one’s. If you are seeing any of these signs, it may be time to discuss hospice with your care team:

  • A decline in your loved one’s ability to perform tasks like eating, using the bathroom, getting dressed, or walking frequent visits to the emergency room or hospital
  • You or your caregivers become exhausted, physically or emotionally, from caring for you or your loved ones
  • You are overwhelmed by the physical, financial, emotional and spiritual concerns arising because of the illness.
  • You or your family feels isolated because of the demands and uncertainty of your loved ones future
  • The patient is already using palliative care services to help manage their treatments.

The Benefits of Children’s Hospice Care

It can be overwhelming and isolating to have a child with complex medical conditions. In the event that end-of-life care is needed, children’s hospice care has a specialized approach, as the stress and impact on families and children differ from regular hospice. This kind of care focuses on the special needs of children and their families who are at the later stages in their prognosis, with a shorter life expectancy.

It is important to not let grief take over life in these moments. That is why we provide the resources that families need at this time in a supportive, loving, and peaceful environment. Families and friends can gather together in their own suite, without restriction, in order to surround their child with love and support. We aim to honor and respect each family’s cultural traditions and care choices.

In addition to our medical care, we provide counseling, home visits, support groups and participation in events held at George Mark for as long as a family desires, allowing every person to grieve and heal in their own way, and at their own pace. Our counseling provides assistance to the entire family throughout a child’s illness and beyond. Working with patients’ interdisciplinary care teams, we link families to community services; coordinate care when returning home so necessary equipment or home care services are obtained; and help families coordinate funeral and memorial services, if needed.

Additional Resources:

There is more to these difficult journeys than just pediatric hospice care. While pediatric hospice care and palliative care have similarities, they each provide specialized services. We offer palliative care along with many other specialized services for children and families going through these difficult journeys.

To learn more about the pediatric palliative program at George Mark’s Children’s home, check out What is Pediatric Palliative Care?