The coronavirus pandemic has presented a new set of circumstances for patients and their families facing end of life. It is completely understandable to have questions, fears, and concerns about how your hospice team might care for you or a loved one against the backdrop of COVID-19. Your hospice team is here to support you and offer care and guidance, and to give you the tools you need for your hospice journey.
What we'd like you to know:
- It is safe to let your hospice team in, but we’ll work with you to change your individualized plan of care if you still have concerns after discussing our infection control measures.
- Washing your hands frequently and practicing social distancing can help keep hospice patients safe during the pandemic.
- Seasons will use technology to help connect with our patients when we can’t see them in person, but we’ll do everything we can to try to get to the bedside.
Hospice & COVID-19
As a hospice organization, Seasons’ number one goal is always to identify pain, discomfort, or suffering and manage that symptom in a method that is respectful and collaborative with you. This encompasses all types of pain, including psychosocial, spiritual, or physical. In order to do this during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s very important for our team to understand any concerns you might have about the care we’re delivering in this time of heightened caution related to COVID-19.
You may have feelings or concerns such as:
- Feeling frustrated, scared, or guilty that you cannot physically be with your loved one during social isolation periods.
- Feeling unsure about what to expect from your hospice support team and medical providers.
- Feeling unsure if you should allow hospice staff into your home and risk exposing your loved one to infection.
- Feeling worried that you will get sick and be unable to take care of your loved one; or, that your loved one will get sick with COVID-19.
- Feeling exhausted because you’ve been giving care around the clock without your usual community help because services are closed, or family members/neighbors are quarantined.
- Feeling confused about how to access telehealth services.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), many state legislatures, state Medicaid programs, and private payers have implemented significant changes to restrictions on the provision and coverage of telehealth services. CMS also amended hospice regulations, on an interim basis, to specify that routine home care visits provided to hospice patients may be done via telehealth if feasible and appropriate.
Our goal is to safely provide care and support in person whenever possible. However, in those circumstances where this cannot be done due to coronavirus concerns, our vision statement directs us to “…find creative solutions which add quality to life.” In order to care for patients during this public health emergency, Seasons Hospice is creatively using technology platforms for special instances when our social workers, music therapists, chaplains, and even some nurses are restricted from the patient bedside in person. Our staff are finding solutions such as “window visits” or video chats, which allow them to work alongside you in the goal for comfort and healing, even if we cannot physically be present.
These changes are intended to make it easier for individuals to receive hospice treatment remotely during the emergency in order to mitigate risk of exposure for both patients and health care workers.
It is a privilege to be on this journey with you – honoring life and offering hope.