They typically go through frequent ER visits and hospital admissions. The quality of life diminishes considerably due to these factors, and takes a serious toll on their caregivers as well. Hospice, with its holistic, multidisciplinary tradition of care, can make a dramatic difference in the lives of COPD patients and their families.
Physical examinations at home, education, support, and counseling are provided by nurses, social workers, counselors, and chaplains:
- A certified nursing assistant provides personal care needed.
- On-call nurses are available 24 hours a day in the case of a medical crisis.
- Volunteers may visit to give a break to the caregiver.
- In-patient hospice units offer a higher level of specialized hospice care when necessary to control symptoms or respite care.
Thus, the quality of life for COPD patients and their families improves as their hospice care team, in cooperation with their physician, develops a care plan to meet that patient and family’s specific needs and share the burden of care.
Unfortunately, COPD patients tend to not be referred to hospice, primarily because COPD remains a particularly difficult condition for which to predict the life expectancy, as required for the hospice benefit. Some patients live with serious symptoms for years; others do not.
Several factors can be considered as a guideline for when to call Delaware Hospice if you, a patient, or a family member or friend suffer from COPD. These include:
- One or more hospitalizations for COPD in the past year.
- Weight loss or decreased functional status.
- Co-morbid conditions that might shorten life span.