Volunteering with hospice is an immensely rewarding experience for the volunteer and those they serve. Hospice is a form of remedy for a difficult and often depressive time for patients and their families and hospice’s goal of comfort, peace and quality of life is greatly enhanced by its volunteers.
Studies have repeatedly shown that volunteering is linked to greater levels of happiness and well-being. Additionally, caring for others has also been found to lead to happiness and fulfillment. Volunteering with a hospice is an excellent method to accomplish both.
A passion to care for others makes a real and tangible difference in people’s lives. A warm person’s smiling face increases positivity and uplifts a hospice patient and their family. Having someone new to talk with and spend time with can be a tremendous gift and blessing.
Photo by Crown Agency
Volunteers can serve in a large variety of roles. No matter your abilities or situation, you can help provide comfort and peace to others in a difficult season. Primarily, volunteers provide companionship by spending time with the patient and simply being there with them. By telling stories, listening to the patient’s stories, reading or even pet and music therapy, volunteers are a ray of light to hospice patients.
In addition to providing company to those in hospice care, volunteers are also needed to help with more practical matters. Bridgeway relies on volunteers to help with office work, fund-raising, community outreach and other operational areas.
Depending on the situation, volunteers sometimes keep vigil with the patient and/or their families during the end. However, volunteers are never asked to do something they don’t feel comfortable doing. Additionally, “In Georgia, volunteers do not participate in any hands-on care such as bathing, feeding or moving the patient,” says Shari Koch one of Bridgeway Hospice’s volunteer coordinators.
Photo by Elijah Henderson
Bridgeway serves all of Metro Atlanta stretching through Northeast Atlanta and into the Athens area. ( BridgewayHospice.org/Locations/ ). As a volunteer you are welcome to volunteer as little or as much as you are available. No long-term commitment is needed to volunteer with Bridgeway Hospice.
Volunteering with Bridgeway Hospice will help you gain great personal satisfaction from knowing that you have made a positive impact in another person’s life. For more information please contact any of our wonderful volunteer coordinators at BridgewayHospice.org/Volunteer/
One of the most frequently asked questions concerns about hospice care is who pays for it and how is it paid for. As with any form of healthcare, cost is a valid concern. However, when you are dealing with an illness that may require hospice care, paying for it is the last thing you want to worry about. Fortunately, hospice care is covered under most types of health plans and requires very little to no out of pocket patient cost.
To qualify for under these health plans, the patient must meet the basic hospice requirements. These requirements state that the patient be diagnosed with a terminal illness and no longer be pursuing aggressive treatment and have a life expectancy of less than six months.
Nearly 90 percent of hospice costs are paid through government programs and most of it comes through Medicare. Most hospice patients are Medicare eligible and Medicare will pay all costs of hospice care except for co-pays on prescription drugs.
Medicare covers a broad range of services including nursing, therapy, social work and even equipment and supplies. Room and board is not included in these services. The only stipulation to Medicare coverage of hospice care is that it will not cover treatment to cure the illness or treat it, beyond palliative care of the symptoms. The upside to this is that there is no limit to how long Medicare will provide for hospice care as long as the patient remains eligible.
For those that do not qualify for Medicare, Medicaid also provides coverage in much the same way. Eligibility requirements for Medicaid vary from state to state and can be found on the program’s website, www.medicaid.gov
Additionally, if the hospice patient is a veteran or military personnel, hospice benefits are provided for by Tricare, the medical care benefit of the armed services. Eligibility and care stipulations are nearly identical to those of Medicare.
Finally, although most private insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana cover hospice care, their plans vary across providers. Of course self-pay is also an option and many charities exist to help those less fortunate to have the comfort and dignity they deserve.
We know that is a difficult time for all involved if you are considering or pursuing hospice care, so the cost of care should be the least of your concerns. Bridgeway Hospice will work with you to determine the best method of payment and provide the best level of care, no matter your situation to make this time as comfortable and peaceful as possible.
Bridgeway Hospice and Bridgeway Palliative Care share many of the same goals although there are some subtle but important differences. Whether you are considering palliative care for someone in your life or simply looking to learn more, in this article we’ll explore what palliative care aims to achieve and the primary ways in which it differs from traditional hospice care.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is specialized medical care aimed at managing the physical, emotional and spiritual issues associated with serious illness. At Bridgeway we work with your current healthcare providers to support their efforts in managing your health, while focusing on your personal goals and values.
Patients with a serious illness, as well as their families, are impacted in all areas of their lives. Palliative care can manage these effects across the entire spectrum of care. In addition to physical problems such as pain, sleeplessness and appetite loss, palliative care also addresses the emotional and social side of illness including anxiety, stress and depression. Palliative care may also help patients and families affirm their thoughts and feelings through a therapeutic approach to emotional support.
A palliative care team will also help with more logistical and practical issues such as helping the family understand resources the community offers to help with financial counseling, transportation and housing. The team also acts as a medical liaison of sorts to the family, offering explanation and understanding of available options and treatment.
Differences of Hospice and Palliative Care
The primary difference between hospice and palliative care is that, unlike hospice, palliative care can be utilized while the patient is undergoing aggressive treatment for the illness and at any time during the illness. Hospice care is reserved for patients that are no longer undergoing life-prolonging treatment and typically have less than six months to live. Palliative care has no such time or treatment restrictions—it acts as an additional layer of medical care for those patients who need comfort, care and support.
Another notable difference between these two levels of care relates to how they are billed. Hospice is usually covered in full by Medicare and Medicaid. While Medicare and Medicaid may also help with palliative care, it is usually covered through the patient’s insurance. Some palliative care programs may operate out of hospitals and inpatient facilities, but Bridgeway Palliative Care is community-based—meaning that we will come to serve and care for the patient where they live.
Palliative care seeks to, and succeeds in, improving quality of life. The program aims to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations for issues such as dehydration and shortness of breath. By managing the symptoms at home, quickly, and in comfortable surroundings, patients benefit and costs are reduced.
Gabby Cornett, Director of Palliative Care Operations for Bridgeway, states that “studies have found that early introduction to a palliative care team can increase quantity and quality of life for cancer patients compared to a control group facing the same diagnosis. In our program, we have noted more than 70% of our patients reporting an increase in quality of life.”
The team at Bridgeway Palliative Care and Bridgeway Hospice are committed experts focused on bringing the very best care to any patient and their family through the appropriate approach to meet your needs.