By Chelsea Cook-McCarrell, General Manager for VITAS® Healthcare
One of the biggest challenges for families caring for loved ones near the end of life is when and how to make the decision to change from active and aggressive treatment to care that focuses on comfort and quality of life.
Referred to as hospice or palliative care, this medical specialty focuses on the relief of pain and other symptoms of an advanced or critical illness. The difference between the two is that palliative care can begin while treatment of a disease is still taking place. Hospice care begins when treatment of a specific disease has stopped, either because treatments are no longer effective or because the patient has decided to focus on comfort in the time that remains. In both cases, the care plan shifts to improve the quality of life for patients and their families.
When selecting a hospice provider, patients and their families have a choice. What makes VITAS unique in Central Illinois is that we are the nation’s leading provider and have been a pioneer in hospice care since our founding in 1978. Today our 12,000 professionals care for 19,000 patients daily across 14 states and the District of Columbia.
All VITAS patients receive care from an interdisciplinary care team that includes a physician, nurse, aide, social worker, volunteer, chaplain, and bereavement specialist.
For most people, the most comfortable place to be as they near end of life is home, surrounded by loved ones. Whether that’s a nursing home, assisted living community, or private residence, VITAS brings our care to you.
Additionally, VITAS provides hospice care tailored to meet the specific needs and unique symptoms of each patient.
Our care does not start and stop with the patient. Because many families or caregivers are experiencing the death of a family member or loved one for the first time, VITAS also supports the family in numerous ways—including bereavement support for at least 13 months following a death, as well as ongoing phone-in and video grief support groups.
Being a caregiver can be a new and challenging experience. Our family and caregiver programs include emotional support and education about caregiving basics, such as how to balance your life and caregiving role, how to manage common symptoms, or how to provide care at home.
Whether you’re being thrust into this role for the first time or have experienced it previously, you will never feel alone or isolated with VITAS by your side. Someone always answers our 24/7 care line—including after hours, weekends, and holidays. We are here to help you be the best caregiver you can be while still preserving your own life and health. The last thing you and your family need is for you to become so overwhelmed that you can no longer take care of yourself or your loved one.
Are you or a family member facing the challenges of an advanced illness? Are you struggling to care for yourself or an ailing loved one? If your situation is getting overwhelming, or if you are questioning whether it is the right time to consider hospice care, call VITAS anytime to schedule a free hospice evaluation by a trained clinician. We are here to help.
For more information about end-of-life care options, call VITAS Healthcare at 309.691.2381 or visit VITAS.com.
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