How to Manage Pushback When Discussing Hospice Care With Family Members

Family member hugging her loved one while having the hospice conversation.

Written by Amedisys

If a loved one has been experiencing a life-limiting illness, increased pain, frequent hospital visits or declining functional abilities and has been recommended by a doctor, hospice care may be the right choice.

Although this solution may be obvious to some, deciding on hospice care may impact more than just the patient. It’s possible that others in your family — such as siblings or spouses — serve as caregivers to the ailing loved one. If this is the case, they might be resistant to the patient choosing hospice care, but ultimately the patient is who decides to go on hospice.

If you are faced with this situation, the right tips can help you manage pushback. Below, you’ll find approaches to these conversations that emphasize empathy, understanding and the benefits of hospice care.

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Common Objections to Hospice Care

Hospice care is a compassionate approach to end-of-life care that focuses on enhancing quality of life. It does so through:

  • Comfort-centric care: Hospice shifts the focus from aggressive treatments to enhancing the patient's comfort, dignity, and peace.
  • Comprehensive pain and symptom management: Meticulous management of pain and symptoms ensures patients are as comfortable as possible during their final days.
  • Emotional and spiritual support: Hospice fosters a nurturing environment during a challenging period by providing emotional and spiritual assistance for the patient and their family.

Although it’s clear to you that hospice care is the right decision, several misconceptions can lead to hesitations or objections for others. It’s important to address these misconceptions and clarify the reality behind each concern:

1. Hospice hastens death.

In reality, comprehensive support means prioritizing the patient’s well-being and dignity.

2. Patients and caregivers lack control.

Hospice care teams work closely with patients and their families to create customized care plans that respect patient wishes and ensure their autonomy throughout the care plan.

3. Emotional, spiritual, and psychological needs will be neglected.

Rather than focusing solely on physical well-being, most hospice care agencies emphasize a holistic approach to care. Social Workers and Bereavement counselors work with patients and their families to help ensure their emotional, spiritual, and psychological needs are met.

4. Communication with hospice staff is challenging.

Hospice care is most effective when care teams prioritize open and transparent dialogue to provide the best ongoing care.

5. Hospice care is too expensive.

In reality, hospice care for eligible patients is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and many private insurance plans.

Navigating Pushback Against Hospice Care

As a caregiver or patient, if you find yourself in favor of hospice care but facing resistance from other caregivers or family members, you can address their fears and concerns by providing information, support and empathy:

1. Keep communication open and honest.

Acknowledge the challenging reality of the situation and emotional difficulty of accepting the end of a parent or loved one's life. Encourage questions and expressions of fears and concerns. Doing so will foster an environment in which everyone feels heard and valued.

When it’s appropriate, explain how hospice care provides a supportive system for caregivers and families to navigate the emotional and practical elements of the situation.

2. Provide information about hospice care.

Clear, straightforward information can demystify hospice care. Make sure to include resources that paint a comprehensive picture of hospice care, such as:

3. Discuss the benefits of hospice care.

After providing resources and addressing misconceptions about hospice care, you can turn your attention to the benefits of hospice care.

Emphasize how this care prioritizes effective pain management and comprehensive emotional, psychological, and spiritual support to provide comfort and emotional well-being and ensure a dignified, peaceful experience.

4. Provide resources about financing hospice.

When it comes to long-term medical stays, finances can be a source of stress. Ease their financial worries by providing resources and information about navigating the financial aspects of hospice care.

A number of options are available, including Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, veterans benefits and many others.

5. Share inspiring success stories and testimonials.

No one knows more about hospice care than those who have experienced it themselves. Positive personal stories from families and patients who have received hospice care can provide reassurance and inspiration.

6. Arrange a meeting with a hospice agency.

Finally, schedule a meeting with a reputable hospice agency. A face-to-face discussion with knowledgeable professionals can help clarify doubts, answer questions, and provide a clearer understanding of what to expect.

Contact a Hospice Agency Near You

Approaching conversations with family members about hospice care requires a balance of education and understanding. With the right resources, you can dispel certain ideas about hospice that might be incorrect. By leading with empathy and encouraging open communication, you can help your family make an informed decision.  

Speaking with a member of a hospice care team by visiting an agency can also be helpful. Find the nearest Amedisys location to you.  

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