Hospice Interdisciplinary Care Team
The hospice care team is a group of specially trained healthcare professionals who ensure that a hospice patient’s last few months, weeks or days are lived in comfort and dignity. The members of this interdisciplinary team include a physician, nurse, hospice aide, social worker, chaplain, volunteer and bereavement specialist.
The Hospice Physician
Every patient in hospice is under the care of a hospice physician who closely monitors the progression of the patient’s illness, prescribes appropriate medications and coordinates care with other members of the team. Hospice physicians invite a patient’s preferred physician to stay as involved as they wish in the care plan.
The Hospice Nurse
Hospice nurses are skilled in assessing and managing a patient’s pain and symptoms. They are trained caregivers who provide hands-on patient care. Skilled listeners, hospice nurses comfort the family while also teaching them how to take the best care of their loved one.
The Hospice Aide
Hospice aides are certified nursing assistants who provide personal care to the patient, such as bathing, dressing or mouth care. They are available to ease the burden on family caregivers by participating in activities such as light housekeeping.
The Hospice Social Worker
Hospice social workers provide emotional and psychosocial support to the patient and family. They coordinate the logistics of the patient’s care, working with insurance companies or the Veterans Administration and helping with finances, funeral planning or other tasks. Social workers are always available to lend a friendly and listening ear.
The Hospice Chaplain
Regardless of a person’s beliefs or religious traditions, hospice chaplains are available to address the spiritual issues that often arise as a patient nears death. The hospice chaplain is there for the patient and the family, honoring and supporting the cultural traditions and values they hold dear. When requested, the hospice chaplain works with the patient’s specified clergy.
The Hospice Volunteer
Hospice volunteers are specially trained in hospice and end-of-life issues to provide compassionate companionship for patients and families or to facilitate their care. Volunteers are an important part of hospice; their duties can range from visiting patients to crafting patient items to documenting patients’ life stories to helping in the office.
The Bereavement Specialist
The bereavement specialist addresses both anticipatory grief and loss after death. Hospice families receive bereavement support up to 13 months after a death, including consistent contact, support groups, grief education and one-on-one visits. Hospice is always available to those who’ve experienced the death of a loved one.
Regular Visits and 24-hour Telephone Support
Hospice team members make sure that patients under their care are comfortable, free from pain and able to maintain the highest possible quality of life. They visit the patient wherever the patient calls home—a private residence, assisted living community or nursing home.
Hospice team members visit on average 5-6 times a week. Collectively, they provide physical, emotional and spiritual support to the patient—monitoring pain, managing symptoms, addressing nutritional needs, watching for emotional issues, and offering support. Team members also teach the family caregiver how to provide the best personal care to the patient.
For after-hours needs, VITAS provides 24-hour telephone access to hospice clinicians who can answer questions, support caregivers over the phone or dispatch a team member to the bedside, if needed.