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Hospice care is an organized system that offers proficient, reliable, and empathetic services to people with compound, persistent, or life-threatening conditions. The system focuses on reducing suffering, improving quality of life, and creating chances for spiritual and personal development.
Hospice or palliative care is offered through a joint endeavor of an interdisciplinary team with patient, caregivers, and relatives as the core stakeholders (Kastenbaum, 2012). The care should be delivered simultaneously with disease-modifying treatment. Palliative care comprises sympathetic and active treatments, which are designed to support and relieve a patient, relatives, and other involved parties.
Requirements for Hospice Service
For one to be admitted for palliative or hospice care, s/he has to meet a number of requirements. First, a physician has to certify that a patient is suffering from a chronic or terminal illness. Besides, “the patient should have a diagnosis of at most six months if the illness takes its ordinary course” (Lynn, 2001, p. 927). In addition, a patient should have not acquired pre-election palliative services or made a palliative election in the past.
A patient who cannot do most of his/her daily chores without assistance is also eligible for hospice services. In some cases, people suffer from illnesses that deter them from walking, cleaning, or feeding themselves. Such patients depend on family members to be taken care of during the time of sickness. Hence, it is imperative to enroll patients for hospice services in a bid to allow family members to attend to other responsibilities.
Barriers to Hospice Services
Hospice services are popular across the world. Nevertheless, a lot needs to be done to overcome obstacles to hospice services. One of the primary barriers to hospice services is education (Lynn, 2001). Patients, health practitioners, and families are not aware of the advantages of hospice services. Moreover, they do not understand the requirements for hospice services. Many regard hospice institutions as a home for terminally ill patients.
Hence, they do not take their patients to the institutions, thus denying them an opportunity to benefit from health services that hospices offer (Lynn, 2001). Another barrier to hospice services is communication. It is hard for even medical professionals to initiate a conversation about hospice.
Consequently, many doctors hold back the topic of hospice services and prefer to talk about it after they try all available alternatives. Doctors fear that talking about hospice may discourage a patient. Therefore, patients do not access hospice services since they do not know about their existence.
Hospice care has numerous enrollment policies, which prevent patients from accessing palliative services. Hospice institutions encounter financial challenges. Hence, they are unable to offer the majority of delicate health services. For instance, the institutions do not cater for patients who require a blood transfusion. Besides, they do not deal with patients under chemotherapy (Lynn, 2001). Hence, their policies deny access to hospice care for patients under these treatment procedures.
Cultural practices act as significant barriers to hospice care. For instance, some patients are unable to access hospice care due to the language barrier. It is hard for some patients like Hispanics to relate to caring providers in the United States. Moreover, distrust towards hospice care makes many not to go for the services.
For example, the percentage of African Americans who go for hospice care is low despite the majority of them suffering from primary hospice diagnoses. In addition, Chinese-Americans fail to seek hospice care due to spiritual beliefs.
How Hospice Serves Children
Children suffering from chronic or terminal diseases require both pediatric palliative care and disease-modifying treatment. Hospice facilities assist children because they offer both services. The primary goal of hospice care is to comfort a child. Consequently, apart from relieving children from pain and other upsetting symptoms, hospice care offers spiritual and psychosocial assistance.
Spiritual and psychosocial relieves are crucial not only for children with chronic diseases but also for their relatives (Davies, Brenner, Orloff, Sumner & Worden, 2002). Hence, hospice incorporates psychosocial and spiritual cares to help children achieve their distinct physical, educational, psychological, and spiritual objectives.
According to hospice care, terminal illness should not deprive children of their happiness. Instead, they should continue with their normal life until their last days. This assertion underlines the reason why care providers are always conscious of the child’s personal, spiritual, and cultural values and practices. They use the values to relate to children and help them to overcome their anguish. In other words, hospice care serves children by focusing on their most cherished beliefs and practices.
Children with hospice care needs vary in age. Hence, they require varied services. Hospice facilities have pediatric subspecialists who are trained in various fields. Besides, they have pediatricians who deal with children suffering from physical and developmental challenges. The fact that a team comprising of individuals with varied skills offers palliative care enables hospice institutions to address children without challenges.
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For many children, their understanding of illness changes as they continue to grow (Davies et al., 2002). Additionally, they start to make critical decisions as they continue to develop. Hence, hospice care helps and prepares children to cope with their circumstances, as they continue to recognize themselves.
How Hospice Serves people with HIV/AIDS
Hospice facilities comprise teams of experts that evaluate patients with HIV/AIDS and revise the approach of care as conditions and signs change daily. The primary objective of hospice care is to alleviate emotional and physical suffering so that patients can preserve their self-esteem and remain happy. Hospices manage to serve patients with HIV/AIDS because they control and ease pain (Lynn, 2001). Individuals with HIV/AIDS contract opportunistic illnesses, which subject them to pain.
Hospices have experts in pain management who guarantee that patients are comfortable. In addition, they offer customized services. As the illness progresses, patients are unable to express themselves. For this reason, hospices have specialists who understand all universal problems related to HIV/AIDS. The experts develop policies to address all the emerging problems.
Another way that hospices serve patients with HIV/AIDS is that they visit patients at their homes (Lynn, 2001). A patient may not necessarily be taken to a hospice institution. Hospice staff members visit patients in their homes and administer necessary treatment. Their flexibility makes them the best for HIV/AIDS patients.
Hospice institutions serve people with HIV/AIDS in partnership with doctors. They develop a treatment strategy in consultation with a patient’s doctor. Thus, they offer synchronized care at all levels. Hospice staff members ensure that doctors, social workers, and nurses get information about a patient (Lynn, 2001).
Moreover, they may inform a priest on a patient’s demand. Lynn (2001) alleges, “Hospices manage and distribute all medical supplies and equipment associated with HIV/AIDS to guarantee that patients receive all necessary treatments” (p. 930). Apart from treatment, hospices help patients to preserve their religious and emotional well-being.
Meaning of Death
When individuals are unable to trounce a particular challenge, they tend to allocate it a meaning. Bowker (1991) alleges that when faced with the definitive quandary and unchangeable truth that life ends, humankind hastily tries to identify some meanings in death. The consciousness of death stirs queries that focus on the nature of existence. What does life entail? Where do people go after death? What is the purpose of living? Human beings ask these questions in an attempt to understand death.
Through such questions, humankind has come up with numerous meanings of death. Some cultures regard death as a continuation of life. They maintain that the soul gets reincarnated after its 7th death (Bowker, 1991). They argue that the soul enters a fruit or mushroom and becomes reborn based on what consumes it.
If consumed by human, the soul is reborn as a human being. Similarly, a soul can be reborn as an animal. Since my childhood, I have heard my parents and the community associating children’s habits with those of their deceased great grandparents. Others allege that some animals are cunning and they behave like human beings. The experience has compelled me to believe in reincarnation.
Some cultures regard death as cycling and recycling (Bowker, 1991). Such cultures hold that death is a short-term condition that prepares people to transit from one form of life to another. They believe that once a person dies, s/he assumes a different life. Nevertheless, the cultures do not give reference to any concrete form of life that one assumes after death.
During my childhood and adolescence years, I came across numerous people who resembled my deceased relatives, either physically or behaviorally. Today, I come across many children who resemble my grandfather. Therefore, I have developed the opinion that one may be reborn in a different form after death.
The majority of communities see death as an event in waiting. Such communities believe that after death people wait for the next ensuing stages. In western civilization, people maintain that death precedes three phases (Bowker, 1991). First, an individual is assumed to be in a sleeplike condition waiting for the judgment day. Second, a person proceeds to judgment day where one is charged based on his or her behavior. Third, after judgment, the soul goes to the final destination.
The final destination may be good or bad based on how one spent his/her life (Bowker, 1991). Despite believing in the possibility of reincarnation, I have been brought up from a religious background. I believe in life after death. Besides, no case of reincarnation has ever been proved. Thus, based on my spiritual teachings and experience, I hold the opinion that death only prepares people for a better life to come.
Among the three meanings, I consider the third one as the highly consoling and acceptable. In spite of some children exhibiting behaviors similar to those of the dead, it is hard to tell if they represent reincarnated souls. In addition, based on the challenges that people encounter on earth, no one would be comfortable to learn that s/he will revisit the same in the future.
However, the idea that people assume a better life after death is consoling. Everyone would like to have a happy life after death. Thus, people strive to live well on earth hoping that the reward will be fulfilled after death.
Bowker, J. (1991). The meanings of death. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Davies, B., Brenner, P., Orloff, S., Sumner, L., & Worden, W. (2002). Addressing spirituality in pediatric hospice and palliative care. Journal of Palliative Care, 18(1), 59-67.
Kastenbaum, R. (2012). Death, society, and human experience (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Lynn, J. (2001). Serving patients who may die soon and their families: The role of hospice and other services. Journal of the American Medical Association, 285(7), 925-932.