Hospice Services Offered by Unique Care Los Angeles Hospice
The needs of a patient in hospice care are many. Our staff is certified to provide a wide variety of hospice services. If your needs do not appear to be listed here, please contact us, and I am sure that we can work something out for you.
It is often a matter of great difficulty for terminally ill patients to visit a doctor. It can be a great trial for family caregivers to assist their ill loved one to the hospital or doctor’s office. This, we believe, runs contrary to the primary aim of hospice care to provide the best possible quality of life to terminally ill patients.
House calls are no longer a relic of an earlier time. UCLAH has concierge physicians available to visit the homes of patients. By paying a fee, you can essentially have a doctor on retainer. The doctor will come to your home on a schedule, or you can call for an urgent visit as needed. Wait times are much shorter than seeking a doctor through the traditional route.
Such doctors will get in touch with the patient’s previous doctors to obtain a full medical history. Then, the physician will be fully equipped to advise the patient and family about possible treatments. Doctor visits can keep a schedule suitable for each patient and family and can make visits on request as well.
Our doctors are specialized in hospice medicine and will help patients and families maintain quality of life and dignity. With the help of a concierge physician, a patient may not need to leave their home at all, meaning she can spend more time in the comfort of her home, among the people who care for her best.
UCLAH’s dedicated nurses are some of the most frequent visitors to patients’ homes. Nurses write a health care plan for each patient, indicating each patient’s needs and what treatments he needs in order to feel comfortable. Nurses also provide ample hands-on care for patients, checking vitals, tending to wounds, and giving injections and medicine.
Our nurses are organizational experts. They regularly hold meetings with the entire hospice team in order to ensure that everybody is on the same page with each patient’s needs. The rest of the team, in turn, will inform the nurse about any changes in the patient.
Our nurses are always available for consultation. Even in the middle of the night, a family member can call us and one of our nurses will answer. If the problem can’t be solved over the phone, we’ll schedule another nurse visit for as soon as possible.
Home Health Aides
We are fully aware of how much work it takes to look after a terminally ill person. It can quickly exhaust family members who are already struggling with the grief of having a soon-departing loved one. Too often do family members wonder if their support is enough, if they could be doing more. It is common for family members to feel overwhelmed and desperate for a respite.
Help is available. Our expert home aides can take the pressure off. You can schedule appointments for several times a week, and a competent home aide will assist in the personal care of the ill patient, from bathing, dressing, taking medication, feeding, and any other daily tasks that need a gentle touch. The aide will perform light housekeeping, making the patient’s space pleasant to live in. The aide can also help the patient with exercises prescribed by the physical therapist and occupational therapist. Furthermore, home aides will advise family members and other caregivers on the patient’s needs, improving the care the patient receives between aide visits. However, aides are not nurses, and cannot help with tasks that normally fall to nurses, such as giving injections or IV therapies; nor can the aide offer medical advice.
Our home aides are usually the health care workers that patients see most often. For this reason, a strong bond often develops between aides and patients. Knowing that such social bonds are an important part of a patient’s quality of life, our staff adds compassion and gentle friendship to the professional services they provide.
A full suite of hospice services must include spiritual as well as emotional and physical care. Chaplains have attended to the needs of the dying for longer than there has been modern medicine and nursing, and so they are highly acquainted with the poignant needs of terminally ill people and their families.
Ministering to the dying is an important part of a chaplain’s training, and the chaplains at Unique Care Los Angeles Hospice are no exception. They are trained to accommodate the special needs of the dying, providing spiritual guidance to the patient whose life is coming to a close. Family members, too, will be comforted knowing that the spiritual needs of their loved ones are being addressed with compassion.
Spiritual leaders are a critical part of the hospice team who provide solace to religious patients and families. A chaplain can help the patient find meaning in his or her life, help resolve any lingering family disagreements, and help the family come to terms with their loved one’s death.
Our chaplains’ services are not tied to any particular faith, but they maintain ties with all local religious leaders. At the family’s request, our chaplains will contact local clergy to meet the patient’s religious needs.
Many hospice patients, particularly those suffering from COPD or other cardiopulmonary conditions, experience some form of respiratory distress: dyspnea (shortness of breath), coughing, tightness in the chest, and others. For some, the anxiety and distress caused by breathing issues are worse than problems caused by excessive pain. Maintaining the quality of life for such patients must involve respiratory therapy.
We provide equipment, such as portable oxygen and oxygen concentrators, for the patients who need them, but mere equipment is no replacement for a qualified specialist. Our respiratory clinicians can help patients manage respiratory distress, provide instruction on safe oxygen and inhaler use, and educate other caregivers on what to do in the event of acute respiratory trouble. A person’s last breaths should be relaxed and calm, not strained.
Medical Social Services
If attending to the physical needs of a terminally ill family member isn’t enough, family caregivers will also after to deal with mountains of paperwork: sorting out private insurance claims, Medicare, and Medicaid; seeing if the patient might claim veteran or civil benefits; completing the patient’s last will and other directives, and so much more. Such details can be overwhelming for family caregivers, who are often bowed with grief for their soon to be departed loved one. This is where our hospice social workers come in.
Our social worker’s duty is to assist with paperwork and locate resources that might be of benefit to the patient and family. He is well-informed on how to navigate medical insurance claims, including sorting out Medicare and Medicaid. He will be able to help you defray other costs by pointing you to other resources, such as temporary assistance programs for home utilities. He will also be knowledgeable about legal matters related to executing wills and other final directives of the ill patient. And finally, our social workers can help family members manage their grief, linking them with qualified counselors and providing bereavement care
For patients in an advanced state of sickness, even the simplest tasks—eating, drinking, taking medicine—become impossible, even for the most dedicated home caregivers. In such cases, it is necessary to deliver nutrients, hydration, and medicine through intravenous therapy. Luckily, our doctors and nurses are certified in applying IVs. Our patients do not need to travel to the hospital or doctor’s office to receive IV therapy: instead, we can come to the patient and administer IVs in the comfort of his home. We can provide nutritional IVs, hydration therapy, antibiotics in the case of infection, and more, giving the patients top-quality care in the comfort of their homes.
It is unfortunate that the terminally ill are susceptible to injury. In the United States, nearly one out of every three hospice patients will suffer a wound, and bodies in such an advanced state of sickness struggle to repair the damage done and fight off infection. Wounds are not just painful for the patient, but they can have a deleterious impact on the patient’s mind, worsening quality of life. With the comfort of the hospice patient being the top priority, such wounds must be dealt with expertly by qualified personnel.
Our staff can expertly treat the wounds of the terminally ill. In the later stages of terminal illness, complete treatment of a wound is not always possible, but our staff will work to manage the symptoms of the wound, providing clean, sterile bandages, managing odors and wound seepage, and helping family caregivers with looking after the wound (and preventing future wounds). Just as important is not just treating the wound itself, but also looking after the emotional well-being of the hospice patient. An injury can shake the already fragile psyche of the terminally ill, so affirming the dignity and bodily integrity of the patient is a critical component of wound care.
Most people associate speech therapy with treating young children with delayed vocal onsets, but a speech therapist is a valuable member of hospice care staff. A speech therapist helps not with just communication but can assist with patients who have difficulty swallowing.
Clear communication is important for the terminally ill, who want to bond with family and friends as much as possible during their last stage of life, and who want to make their end-of-life plans known. Unfortunately, terminal illness often comes with a loss of speech capability. A speech therapist can help a patient maintain her bonds with family by helping her communicate effectively. This can be done by treating problems with the vocal apparatus or by alternative methods of communication.
Our speech therapists also help patients who struggle with swallowing and chewing. By allowing the patient to continue enjoying food and the social habit of taking meals with family, the speech therapist contributes greatly to the patient’s quality of life.
A physical therapist is a movement expert—a specialist who can enhance life by providing exercise and hands-on care to the terminally ill. This allows the patient a greater degree of freedom, allowing her to move about as freely as possible while avoiding any further injury and disability.
Physical therapy, in conjunction with medicine, can have a great impact on the patient’s level of pain, and even simple exercises can have a positive effect on the mental health of a patient. Furthermore, physical therapy can slow the gradual loss of ability that accompanies terminal illness, giving the patient a longer time to enjoy movement and physical activity.
Our physical therapists can also provide crucial information to family caregivers, who will need to know the physical capabilities of the patient when assisting her move about the home.
Occupational therapy and physical therapy are often mistaken for one another, but they are two separate disciplines. In broad strokes, physical therapy seeks to improve strength, balance, and mobility so that the patient can move about more freely. In contrast, occupational therapy is dedicated to helping patients perform activities of day-to-day life, from dressing themselves, bathing, eating and drinking, to playing games and musical instruments.
In hospice care, the priority is always to provide the best quality of life to the patient. For that reason, our occupational therapists play an important part in a hospice medical team. Think of all the many complicated things we do with our fingers every day that we take for granted: a patient’s life and mood will be much improved if she can eat play cards, use a television remote, or thumb through a magazine, to say nothing of the dignity she can maintain if she can dress herself and eat with fork and knife for as much as time as is left to her.