What is Hospice Care?
You, your family, and your doctor decide together when hospice care services should begin. Hospice and palliative care is appropriate when the focus of your medical treatment is no longer toward finding a cure, but toward improving quality of life.
Entering hospice care does not mean there is no longer any hope. If your condition improves, or the disease goes into remission, you can easily leave the hospice care program and return to active medical or cancer treatment. You can return to hospice care at a later time if you need to. Hospice care is not about giving up – it is about hope for a quality life, taken day-by-day, during the advanced stage of illness.
Hospice care recognizes death as the final stage of life, and seeks to enable patients to continue an alert, pain-free life, and to manage other symptoms, so that their last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones.
Home Hospice Care
Hospice is a home-based program. Most hospice patients are cared for in their own homes, where they most want to be. However, sometimes patients using home hospice care services might move from one setting to another, as his or her care needs change. Middlesex Hospital's home Hospice care program can also provide care in assisted living facilities or skilled nursing facilities.
Weiss Hospice and Palliative Care Unit
Our Weiss Hospice and Palliative Care Unit at Middlesex Hospital is available for patients who need short-term hospital care for help with symptom control.
At any given time, a mix of Hospice Care, Palliative Care, or medical overflow patients may be on the unit. Patients on this unit have made a choice that, in the event of a life-stopping event, they may be allowed to die a natural death. Many patients, including Hospice care patients, will return home or go to another level of care.
On the unit, we have created our own ritual when a death has occurred. Death, like birth, is an important passage, regardless of your culture or faith. Rituals help to mark death as a time to take notice, and to acknowledge the moment as something that deserves respect.
A Hospice and Palliative Care team member rings a chime to alert all of us, staff and families, that a death has occurred. As you listen to the chime, follow the sound as it fades, allowing yourself to be in the moment. The chime will be rung once at the door of the patient’s room, and at each end of the hallway. In order to identify the room in which the death has occurred, a small light will be placed on the door. The light reminds us to be mindful of the death and those that have been directly affected by it.
Letting Go Ritual
When a patient is moving closer to death, the Letting Go Ritual can be used as a way of helping him or her let go. If the family chooses, the ritual can also be used after the death to help acknowledge the passage of their loved one.
Hospice Care Visiting Hours
Visiting hours are unlimited for Middlesex Hospital's hospice care patients; however, we ask that you be courteous and considerate of others at all times. After 8 p.m., visitors must enter through the Emergency Department entrance. Inform Security that you are visiting the Hospice & Palliative Care Unit, and they will assist you. If your loved one is asleep when you arrive, you may leave a note in the Visitor’s Journal in their room so your efforts do not go unnoticed.
Personalizing the room makes the space feel more like home. Please bring in items such as photos, mementos, CDs, tapes, or videos. CD, tape, and VCR players are available for use.
In addition to patient rooms, the Unit has a kitchen, family room, and chapel. We encourage you to use them. You may prepare favorite family recipes, take time to rest and relax, or take a moment to reflect or to pray. A computer with Internet access is available in the family room. CDs, tapes, videos, games, and art supplies are also available. Our library has a collection of books that you may find helpful and interesting.
Hospice Care Volunteers are members of our Hospice and Palliative Care team. They are here to assist you with your needs, and can be identified by their teal-colored jackets.
All calls to the patient go through our nurses’ station and not directly into the patient’s room. Calls are transferred according to patient/family wishes. Cell phones are permitted on the hospice and palliative care floor; however, please be considerate of others when using them.
Pet visits are allowed and encouraged. Just ask your caregiver how to complete necessary paperwork, arrange a time, and obtain a pet scarf. You must be in control of your pet at all times. Please see a team member if you are interested.
We strive to maintain patient and family satisfaction with our Hospice and Palliative Care program. When you receive a satisfaction survey in the mail, please consider completing and returning it. Your input will help us continue to improve the care we provide.
Hospice Care Program Admission Criteria
Hospice care is appropriate for patients whose life expectancy is about 6 months, and the focus of care changes from seeking a cure to providing quality of life. Patients can be referred by their attending physician, a nurse, social worker, discharge planner, family, or even make a self-referral. You can also ask your physician to make a referral or call us for an assessment.
Hospice Care Services
The Middlesex Hospital Hospice care team includes doctors, nurses, social workers, hospice aides, specially trained volunteers, spiritual care leaders, physical and occupational therapists, and nutritionists.
Hospice Care Services include:
- Managing symptoms and medications
- Help with nutritional needs
- Emotional support
- Coordination of care
- Personal care
- Education on illness-related issues
- Assistance with resource planning
- Caregiver assistance
- Spiritual counseling
- Holistic services – art and music programs, reiki
- Bereavement counseling