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Hospice Care/Hospice and driving

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Question
My dad is at home with some health issues relating to his heart and lungs.  He isn't doing too bad but we feel he shouldn't be alone so we have some great care givers to care for him during the day.  He also has been put in the hospice program because he met some criteria.
He wants to keep the hospice nurse and those services but at the same time, he would like to be able to at least drive to the store and to church.  I asked one person and was told that he absolutely can NOT drive or he will be removed from the hospice program.  
Another person said that he can drive if the doctor says he can.  And I have someone else telling me that he can drive but if he gets pulled over, he will be removed from hospice and have to pay for all the care he received to that point.
So what is the real answer?  Can he drive the 2 miles to the store and the 2 blocks to church, or are one of the people's answers above correct?

Answer
Hi, Brett--

What an interesting set of questions!

First, your father is able to receive hospice services only because he met all the criteria: he has an illness which will cause his life to end within six months if curative treatment is not sought, he has chosen not to do curative treatment and to have symptom management and comfort care only, a physician has certified that he is ill and likely to die in six months or less, and a physician (could be the same one, doesn't have to be) has written an order for hospice.  

As for being able to drive, the different answers you have shared include some that apply to home health but not to hospice.  I would stick to people at the hospice when getting info about hospice--and if they make these kinds of mistakes, maybe you want to help your Dad find a different hospice agency!  This is serious business--you need to be able to trust your hospice agency and staff 100%.  We do not get to "re-do" dying.  Dad has one event, and one alone, for which he is preparing.

Hospice patients can do whatever they wish, providing that it is within the law and they aren't endangering anyone.  If Dad is too weak or might pass out, or something like that, I would take his keys and make sure you drive him wherever he wants to go.  But if he is safe, he's "good to go."

Home health patients cannot drive places (except, I think, to church and the grocery store) because the reason they need home health must be because they need care but are unable to drive to the doctor's to get the care.  They must also be able to reasonable expect to improve.  This is not the case for hospice patients, although they might... but improvement is not an admission criterion, like it is for home health.

Thank you for trusting me with these questions.  I hope you and your Dad are able to get good care and that he is able to live his life as much as he can, with what time he has left.

Christine

PS--I had another thought.  You can see the criteria and benefits for hospice by checking out http://www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/02154.pdf which can answer some of your questions and make you a savvy consumer....  Take care...

Hospice Care

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Christine Johnson

Expertise

I can give suggestions, encouragement and direction on what hospice is and is not, when it is appropriate, and how to go about getting it. I am familiar with Medicaid and Medicare hospice benefits. I can answer general questions about disease process, what dying looks like, how hospice handles pain and other symptoms, what to expect from a hospice when end of life nears. I can provide support, direction and encouragement related to spiritual matters and psychological matters related to death and dying.

Experience

I am a certified hospice and palliative care nurse, and have been the director of nurses for three hospice centers, under two different companies. I have also worked as a contract hospice nurse for a large American hospice company. On a personal level, my father died without benefit of hospice (it was not popular then). I have taken care of dying patients in hospitals and recognize that for most of us, it is preferable to die at home (or in our residence, wherever that may be), comfortably and without anxiety. Also I had no support when my father died; hospice clients are the whole family (however that is defined by the "patient"), and support is provided at least a year after the patient passes. These are the sorts of things (and probably others) that I can help with.

Organizations
HPNA (Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association)

Publications
none yet

Education/Credentials
Registered Nurse (TX), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (TX) ADN Nursing, Excelsior College, Albany, New York (2004) 4.0 GPA BA, Psychology (minor Social Work), Oklahoma University, Norman, OK (1986) 3.67 GPA MHR (MA) Human Relations, Oklahoma University, Norman, OK (1988) 3.5 GPA

Awards and Honors
Phi Beta Kappa (and others)

Past/Present Clients
Unable to name as this would violate their privacy (and HIPAA....)

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