A Family’s Role in Hospice Care

When a loved one is at the point where they need hospice care, the family may be at a loss as to what their role should be. Unlike typical medical care, in which the family would only play, at most, a very small role, the family often plays a much larger role when it comes to hospice care.

Some of the ways that the family may be involved in hospice care of a loved one are discussed below.

Choosing Providers

The patient’s doctor or hospital will likely suggest a provider of hospice services, but that does not mean that you have to use them. Check references as well as the Better Business Bureau. You should also see if it is possible to meet the person or people who will actually be providing the care. If you are not happy with what you see, start researching other hospice care providers in your area.

Being Present

Obviously, the need for hospice care signals a very difficult time. Because hospice care is not usually ordered until the patient has less than six months to live, this can naturally be a very emotional time for all involved.
One of the most important roles that a family member can play is to just be present. The amount of hospice care that your loved one receives will vary based on a number of factors, but even if he or she is receiving 24 hour hospice care, your presence in the home can make a big difference.

Not only will you be able to make sure that an acceptable level of care is being provided, but you will also be there to provide emotional support to your loved one.


There may come a time when you will need to be the advocate for your loved one. When they can no longer speak for themselves or when dementia makes it impossible for them to do so in a coherent way, you will be their voice. Even if you have the best hospice providers in the world, they will not care for your loved one as much as you do. Know what is going on, so that you can request changes as necessary.

Participating in/Getting Assistance

Your role in hospice care is not just to make sure that your loved one receives the care he or she needs. In many cases, it is to get care and support for yourself. Hospice providers usually have services that are available for the family members of the patient. This may include counseling, spiritual guidance, advice and resources for caregivers and, when the time comes, grief counseling and support.

The times in your life when a loved one requires hospice care are certainly going to be some of life’s most difficult. But by taking your own role in hospice care seriously, you will be able to make the most of the moments that you have left with your loved one, make sure that they are cared for in the best possible way and also have an avenue through which your own needs can be met.

June 21, 2012 in Senior Care

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