Post-Admission Visit in Hospice Care: What to Expect and Questions to Ask

Published on May 1, 2024

Updated on May 1, 2024

If you or someone you love has a severe illness that cannot be cured, you may have heard of . is a special kind that focuses on making the patient comfortable and peaceful in their final days. Hospice care also supports the family and caregivers emotionally and spiritually.

When a patient joins hospice care, they will have a special meeting with a hospice nurse. This meeting is called the post-admission visit. It is an essential visit because it will help the patient and the family get to know the hospice team and learn more about the care they will receive.

This article will explain what to expect and what to ask during the post-admission visit. We will also provide tips and resources to help you and your loved one make the most of this time. We hope this article will help you feel more prepared and confident about the hospice journey.

What is the Post-Admission Visit?

When your loved one joins hospice care, they will have a special visit from a hospice nurse. This visit is called the post-admission visit. It usually happens within 48 hours after your loved one is admitted to hospice. This visit aims to help you and your loved one get to know the hospice team and learn more about the care they will receive.

During the post-admission visit, the hospice nurse will:

  • your loved one's medical history, medications, symptoms, and goals of care.
  • Explain the role of the hospice team and how they will work together to provide comfort and support to your loved one and your family.
  • Assess your loved one's physical and emotional needs and create a plan of care that meets their preferences and wishes.
  • Provide education and guidance on how to care for your loved one at home, including how to manage pain, nausea, anxiety, and other common issues.
  • Answer any questions or concerns about hospice care, such as what to expect, how to cope, and what resources are available.
  • Give you a contact number to call 24/7 if you need help or have an emergency.

The post-admission visit is a good opportunity for you and your loved one to get to know the hospice nurse and build trust and rapport. The nurse will listen to your concerns and respect your choices. The nurse will also offer you and your loved one emotional support and . The post-admission visit is crucial in ensuring your loved one receives the best care in their final days.

Topics Typically Covered During the Visit

Introduction to Hospice Care

Hospice care is a special kind of care for people who have a serious illness that cannot be cured. It is not about giving up hope but making the most of the time you have left with your loved one. Hospice care helps your loved one feel comfortable and peaceful and supports you and your family emotionally and spiritually.

The main goal of hospice care is to keep your loved one as comfortable as possible. This means that the hospice team will focus on relieving pain and other symptoms that may cause distress, such as nausea, anxiety, or trouble breathing. The hospice team will not give treatments meant to cure the illness; they will only give those that help with comfort and quality of life.

The hospice team will work with you and your loved one to create a that suits their needs and wishes. The plan will include the type and frequency of visits, the medications and equipment provided, and your loved one's goals and preferences. The plan will be reviewed and updated regularly to meet your loved one's changing needs.

Medications

The hospice team will provide all the medications that are needed to manage the symptoms and comfort of your loved one. The hospice nurse will explain what each medication is for, how to give it, and when to give it. The hospice nurse will also tell you which medications to continue and which ones to stop, as some medications may not be helpful or may cause at this stage. The hospice team will also arrange for the delivery and disposal of the medications and will cover the cost of the medications related to the hospice diagnosis.

Symptom Management

The hospice team will help you and your loved one cope with the common symptoms that may occur during the final stage of life. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Pain: The hospice team will assess the level and type of pain your loved one is experiencing and will prescribe the appropriate pain medications and other methods to ease the pain. The hospice team will also teach you how to monitor and report the pain and how to adjust the pain medications as needed.
  • Nausea: The hospice team will provide anti-nausea medications and other remedies to help your loved one feel less sick. The hospice team will advise you on what foods and drinks to offer your loved one and how to prevent dehydration.
  • Shortness of breath: The hospice team will provide oxygen and other devices to help your loved one breathe easier. They will also teach you how to position your loved one, use relaxation techniques, and calm your loved one if they feel anxious or scared.

Support Services

The hospice team will offer various support services to you and your loved one, such as:

  • Counseling: The hospice team will provide emotional and psychological support to help you and your loved one cope with the feelings and challenges that come with a terminal illness. The hospice team will also help you and your loved one prepare for the end of life and offer grief and bereavement support after your loved one passes away.
  • Spiritual care: The hospice team will respect and honor your loved one's spiritual beliefs and values and provide spiritual guidance and comfort if requested. If desired, the team will also help you and your loved one connect with your faith community or clergy.
  • Social work: The hospice team will assist you and your loved one with practical matters, such as financial, legal, or insurance issues. The hospice team will also help you and your loved one access other resources and services that may be helpful, such as home health aides, volunteers, or respite care.

Emergency Procedures

The hospice team will explain what to do in case of emergencies, such as:

  • A sudden change in your loved one's condition, such as increased pain, bleeding, or seizures.
  • A fall or injury that causes pain or bleeding.
  • A power outage that affects the medical equipment or oxygen supply.
  • A fire, flood, or other natural disaster that forces you to evacuate.

The hospice team will give you a contact number to call 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you need help or have an emergency. The hospice team will also tell you when to call 911 and when not to call 911, as some situations may not require or benefit from hospitalization.

Communication

The hospice team will encourage open and honest communication between you, your loved one, and the hospice team. The hospice team will listen to and answer your concerns and questions clearly and respectfully. The hospice team will also respect the choices and decisions of your loved one and will involve you and your loved one in the care planning process. The hospice team will also communicate with your loved one's other healthcare providers, such as their primary doctor or specialist, to ensure coordination and continuity of care.

Five Key Questions to Ask the Hospice Nurse

How often will you visit my loved one?

The hospice nurse will visit your loved one as often as needed, depending on their condition and care plan. The nurse will also coordinate with the other hospice team members, such as the doctor, , , and volunteers, to ensure that your loved one receives comprehensive and holistic care. The nurse will inform you of the schedule and frequency of the visits and adjust them as needed.

What can I do to keep my loved one comfortable between visits?

The hospice nurse will teach you how to care for your loved one at home and will provide you with the necessary supplies and equipment. The nurse will also give you tips and instructions on how to:

  • Give medications and monitor their effects
  • Manage symptoms and prevent complications
  • Provide personal care and hygiene
  • Change dressings and bandages
  • Use medical devices and oxygen
  • Prevent bedsores and
  • Create a comfortable and safe environment
  • Provide emotional and spiritual support

The nurse will also encourage you to care for yourself and seek help when needed. The nurse will remind you that you are not alone and that the hospice team can always assist you.

What support services are available for both my loved one and our family?

The hospice team will offer various support services to you and your loved one, such as:

  • Counseling: The hospice team will provide emotional and psychological support to help you and your loved one cope with the feelings and challenges that come with a terminal illness. The hospice team will also help you and your loved one prepare for the end of life and offer grief and bereavement support after your loved one passes away.
  • Spiritual care: The hospice team will respect and honor your loved one's spiritual beliefs and values and provide spiritual guidance and comfort if requested. The team will also help you and your loved one connect with your faith community or clergy if desired.
  • Social work: The hospice team will assist you and your loved one with practical matters, such as financial, legal, or insurance issues. The hospice team will also help you and your loved one access other resources and services that may be helpful, such as home health aides, volunteers, or respite care.

How can we communicate with the hospice team after hours?

The hospice team will give you a contact number to call 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you need help or have an emergency. The hospice team will also tell you when to call 911 and when not to call 911, as some situations may not require or benefit from hospitalization. The hospice team will also communicate with your loved one's other healthcare providers, such as their primary doctor or specialist, to ensure coordination and continuity of care.

What can we do to honor my loved one’s preferences and wishes?

The hospice team will respect and follow the preferences and wishes of your loved one if they are consistent with the hospice philosophy and standards of care. The hospice team will also help your loved one complete an advance directive, which is a document that states their choices for medical treatment and end-of-life care. The hospice team will also support you and your loved one in making any changes or updates to the care plan if they are in the best interest of your loved one. The hospice team will also encourage you and your loved one to express your feelings, needs, and concerns and will listen and respond with and understanding.

Conclusion

When your loved one joins hospice care, they will have a special visit from a hospice nurse. This visit is especially important because it will help you and your loved one get to know the hospice team and learn more about the care they will receive. The hospice team will explain everything to you and your loved one and answer any questions or concerns. The hospice team will also listen to your loved one's wishes and preferences and respect their choices. The hospice team will also support you and your loved one emotionally and spiritually and will help you cope with this grim time.

The post-admission visit is a time to communicate, understand, and support each other. You can help your loved one feel comfortable and peaceful by asking good questions and understanding the care plan. You can also help your loved one live their final days with dignity and grace. The post-admission visit is a key step in making the most of your time with your loved one.

Resources

The importance of caregiver journaling

What's the process of getting your loved one on hospice service?

Picking a hospice agency to provide hospice services

Hospice Foundation of America – How to Prepare for Hospice

Thrive Global – 29 Questions To Ask Your Hospice Provider

Providing Comfort During the Last Days of Life with Barbara Karnes RN (YouTube Video)

Preparing the patient, family, and caregivers for a “Good Death.”

Velocity of Changes in Condition as an Indicator of Approaching Death (often helpful to answer how soon? or when?)

The Dying Process and the End of Life

The Last Hours of Life

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