Hospice and palliative care offer comfort, pain management and symptom relief to patients with limiting illnesses. Patients may receive active curative treatment during palliative care. Hospice care is reserved for terminally ill patients when treatment is no longer curative during the last 6 months of life, assuming the disease takes its normal course.
Hospice recognizes the dignity, comfort and choices of every patient. Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk works in partnership with each patient, their doctor and family to create an individualized plan to meet all of their physical, psychosocial, emotional and spiritual needs. Hospice, a family centered concept of care, focuses as much on the family and loved ones as the patient. Patients are surrounded by people they hold dear, free of many of the stresses associated with end of life. Hospice care emphasizes effective pain control and symptom management in combination with supportive counseling services for the entire family. All care is provided under the direction of the patient’s primary physician or nurse practitioner and hospice physician and nurse practitioner. With the support of our social worker, loved ones are more prepared for their loss as they participate in our bereavement program, counseling and memorial ceremonies.
The gift of hospice is its capacity to help families see how much can be shared at the end of life through personal and spiritual connections. Many loved ones and family members often look back upon their hospice experience with gratitude and the knowledge that everything possible was done towards achieving a peaceful death.
Hospice at Home
Although the majority of Americans prefer to spend their last days at home, too many spend their last days in facilities unlike home, which do not offer the full complement of services available to alleviate pain and suffering. VNSHS hospice is dedicated to making a patient’s choice to spend their last days at home – alert and pain free among the people and things they love – happen.
When to choose hospice?
While many physicians refer patients to hospice, anyone can refer a patient to hospice–friend, family member or clergy. VNSHS will contact the physician to determine if the patient is appropriate for hospice care. VNSHS hospice will then consult the patient and family to see if hospice services are desired.
Who is part of the hospice team?
Typically, a family member or friend serves as the primary caregiver and, when appropriate, helps make decisions for the terminally ill individual. Hospice supplements the daily care provided by the primary caregiver with a team that consists of a registered nurse, physician, social worker, home health aides, pastor and volunteers, all working together to plan and coordinate care.
Patients are assigned a nurse case manager as their primary contact. Members of the care team make regular home visits and a nurse is on-call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week to advise over the telephone and make visits when necessary.
Trained professionals will provide symptom control and pain management including IV therapy, as well as physical, occupational and respiratory therapy. VNSHS’ specially trained and screened volunteers can provide companionship, prepare light meals, run errands, grocery shop and offer companionship to patients and families.
You have choices:
- Routine Hospice Care is most often given in the home, but inpatient care can also be provided in either a nursing home, hospital or Hospice House – VNSHS’ homelike inpatient hospice in East Northport where families and friends can share final days with their loved ones. This eight-bed inpatient facility is specifically designed to meet the needs of terminally ill patients and their families as they face the end of life.
- Inpatient Respite Hospice For patients who do not meet the criteria for inpatient hospice care or if a caregiver needs to travel or when it is believed that the caregiver would benefit from some rest from the daily care they provide at home, inpatient respite care at Hospice House is available on a limited basis.
- Stopping Hospice Care If the patient chooses to stop receiving hospice care, health care benefits from the standard or managed care Medicare program continue. If the terminally ill patient’s health improves or if a patient goes into remission, their regular health care benefits will resume. A patient can return to hospice care at any time if the eligibility criteria are met and certification by the physician and hospice team is received.
Is hospice covered by insurance?
While most patients are eligible to use Medicare or Medicaid for hospice services, some patient’s hospice care is covered by private health insurance plans.
Hospice House, founded in 2004 as the first freestanding inpatient hospice in New York State
Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk recognized a gap in service as there was no dedicated residence on Long Island for patients who are unable to stay in their own home who require end-of-life care. As a trusted healthcare leader proactive to the needs of the community, VNSHS established New York State’s first freestanding, inpatient hospice in November 2004. Its warm, homelike setting neither appears nor functions like a hospital or nursing home. With no set visiting hours, loved ones can stay 24-hours a day. Today Hospice House consistently serves as a model for the development of other hospice services.
Hospice House is an 8-bed inpatient facility designed specifically to meet the needs of terminally ill patients and their families as they face the end of life. Hospice House provides 24-hour care from registered nurses and hospice aides, as well as the companionship and support of trained hospice volunteers. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to care – a nurse practitioner, medical director, social worker, pastor, nutritionist and volunteer services all play an essential part on the hospice team.
Each patient has a private room with a bathroom, sleeper chair for guests, tv, refrigerator, phone, internet access and Sonos, an internet streaming music system. Patients and guests use the House’s sunroom, Memorial Garden, kitchen, living room and meditation room.
More about Hospice House:
- Visiting hours are unlimited and unrestricted. With advanced permission, family pets may also visit. If you’ve been ill, it’s safer for all patients if you telephone or email your loved one instead of visiting in person.
- While professional staff is available to provide direct care, families are welcome and encouraged to participate in the care of their loved ones.
- A wireless pendant system enables the patient to instantly alert the duty nurse when assistance is needed.
- The Hospice House kitchen is available to all patients and their families to eat a meal together or prepare a light snack.
- The goal of the entire staff is to maintain the patient’s comfort and enhance quality of life.
- Our nursing staff has years of experience in pain and symptom management.
- The advance directive of a DNR allows us to provide all necessary palliative measures to ensure the patient’s comfort while allowing a peaceful, natural death.
- A social worker is available to provide support and counseling or just a quiet listening ear. The social worker will hold a family conference within 24-48 hours of the patient’s admission to Hospice House.
- Individualized bereavement support is available to loved ones, offering comfort and counseling for up to 13 months.
- The Hospice House is a smoke-free environment
How to contact a patient at Hospice House:
To mail a patient, please send mail attention:
Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk
101 Laurel Road
East Northport, NY 11731
To contact a patient at Hospice House, please call 631.930.9399
Inpatient Hospice Respite
For hospice patients who do not meet the criteria for inpatient care or if a caregiver needs travel or when it is believed that the caregiver would benefit from some rest from the daily care they provide at home, inpatient respite care at Hospice House is available.
Medicare insurance covers respite care lasting up to five days at a time. The care is available on an occasional basis, but the number of stays is unlimited.
Palliative care is specialized multidisciplinary care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, physical and mental stress of a serious illness, whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve the quality of life for the patients and the family. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided while you are being treated for your illness.
Is palliative care right for me?
Palliative care may be right for you if you suffer from pain, stress or other symptoms associated with a serious or chronic illness, including but not limited to:
- Cardiac disease
- Respiratory disease
- Renal or liver disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Multiple Sclerosis
What can I expect?
You can expect relief from symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. Palliative care helps you carry on with your daily life by improving your ability to go through medical treatments. It helps you better understand your illness—in short, you can expect the best possible quality of life.
Our multidisciplinary approach includes:
- Oversight by a Registered Nurse Case Manager
- Support and counseling by a Medical Social Worker, and telephone monitoring if necessary
- Physical, occupational and speech therapies, as needed
- Consultation by a Nurse Practitioner and/or a Registered Nurse with training in palliative care
- Home health aide services
- Oxygen for comfort
When a loved one passes, the Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk continues to provide support to family members and friends. Each loss is as unique as the individual relationship and our own individual ways of coping.
The VNSHS bereavement team specializes in grief counseling. We are there to assure the long-term mental and physical well-being of survivors of all ages by helping them incorporate their loss into their life. Our programs provide services to the hospice family for up to 13 months following admission. Bereavement services are also available to members of the community regardless of if a loved one was in our care.
Bereavement programs offered:
- Therapeutic bereavement groups
- Coping with special days and holidays for adults
- Coping with special days and holidays for children
- Annual Lights of Remembrance Candle Lighting Ceremony every May
- Annual Memorial Garden Ceremony every September
- Annual Tree of Lights Memorial Ceremony every November
- Bereavement calls and visits from bereavement staff and volunteer calls
- Grief library of books and pamphlets
- Referral to community practitioners and agencies
- Consultation services
For more information about bereavement support, please contact Joan Lewis, Bereavement Coordinator, at 631.930.9316 or firstname.lastname@example.org