Each day, parents of terminally ill children are faced with the financial and emotional decision to place their child in hospice care, through home services or through placement in a hospice facility. For many parents, this decision is often met with great anxiety and fear, primarily due to the lack of information about the structure of the team of healthcare professionals associated with pediatric hospice services.
For parents struggling with the decision of hospice care versus hospitalization, it is important to understand the dynamics of the hospice setting, both at home and in a hospice facility, and how the care will impact the health of your terminally ill child.
Hospice facilities, as a general rule, contain a multidisciplinary team of professionals in their field. Overseeing this team of professionals is the administration staff of the hospice facility. The administration of the hospice facility is actually a very dynamic group as they must face the daily challenges involving the emotional, physical and financial challenges the patients and families they serve, while also regulating and overseeing the function of the organization for which they are employed. As a result, the administrator in the hospice facility must be very versatile.
In addition to the administration staff, the hospice facility will also include a medical director. Acting as a liaison between the hospice staff and your child’s healthcare team, the medical director will manage daily symptoms, consulting with the pediatrician or your child’s healthcare professionals, on a regular basis.
Then there is the nursing staff component of hospice care. Usually supervised by the medical director, the nursing staff provides a spectrum of much needed services to both the hospice patient and to their families. In fact, because pediatric hospice care is such an emotional challenge, many times, the medical director will review the family’s dynamics in hopes of matching the best suited nurse for the child’s particular physical and emotional needs.
And then there is the director who oversees the volunteers of the hospice facility. As a vital piece of the hospice services, the hospice volunteers usually undergo extensive training, interviews and are supported in a variety of ways by the community. Through their director, the volunteers coordinate and execute activities for hospice patients and their families, as needed.
As with any issue facing your terminally ill child, the key to understanding the alternative use of hospice services lies in the power of your knowledge about the dynamics and services offered by the facility. To ensure the best possible care is provided to your terminally ill child, consider using hospice services especially when they encompass this variety of healthcare specialties as part of their team approach.