Hospice is a treatment framework where the patient receives palliative care, which focuses on improving quality of life by alleviating pain and other distressing symptoms, without intention to either accelerate or postpone the patient’s death.
This care is designed for patients suffering from a terminal illness, or nearing the end of life. The care incorporates a combination of medical, nursing and psychosocial care. A patient may still be receiving active treatment of the disease (radiotherapy, chemotherapy, etc) independent of the palliative care.
Palliative care is available from the initial diagnosis of a terminal illness, and can increase as the patient's condition worsens. Once the patients is reaching the end of life, palliative care is given under the framework of hospice care.
Hospice care is included in the healthcare basket and may be provided in an institutional framework, or by a service provider at home.
How to receive hospice care
From the moment of diagnosis with an incurable disease, the option of palliative care should be discussed with the treating doctor. The Ministry of Health guidelines establish coverage for palliative/hospice if a medical practitioner has determined life expectancy up to 6 months. The doctor will provide a referral, and may include the recommendation in hospital release papers, if applicable. A patient’s family doctor may also make the referral to the Kupat Holim Home Care Unit who can then refer to a home hospice service provider.
Where to receive hospice care
Palliative/hospice care can be obtained both at the hospital and at home. Some patients choose to be treated at home, to stay with their family members while receiving the care and support of a skilled professional staff. The medical and social staff can also provide assistance to the family, instruct them on how to perform certain procedure, and support them in difficult moments.
A patient is cared for by a professional staff that includes a nurse, a doctor and a social worker who follow a team approach to address the patient’s and family’s needs. For a home hospice service, although the staff is available for the patient and the family 24/7, they are not constantly present and there must be a primary caregiver assuming responsibility for the patient. Hospice care is provided as a service of the kupah and does not require extra payment. Monthly payments can be received through bituach siudi (long term nursing care) if the patient had the policy before the illness.
As part of the basic principles of hospice care, mental and spiritual aspects of a patient’s care include assistance in coping with the disease as well as facilitating the families affirmation of life and perception of death as a normal process.
When dealing with this difficult situation, being well informed and understanding your options is of the utmost importance.
Yad L'Olim's Healthcare Division in memory of Shira Pransky z"l, has translated information on rights of hospice patients, which you can find here. The information from Kol Zchut lists hospice care as an option only for patients who have exhausted all medical treatments and are no longer prolonging life.
Sabar Health offers home hospice and palliative care services that are fully covered by all the kupot cholim. In order to have their services covered by the kupot cholim, one must get a hafnaya from their family doctor for hospice care. They offer services for those recently diagnosed and receiving treatment, as well as services for those who are terminally ill. Sabar Health offers 24/7 support for patients and their families. Each patient is assigned a team and case manager based on his/her diagnosis. Teams include doctors, nurses, social workers, various therapists, and more. Sabar Health regularly offers training and retraining for their staff, and can be a great potential resource for those in need of at home hospice care. To see their full website and inquire with one of their staff members, click here.
Tmicha Palliative Care (IAPC)
Tmicha Palliative Care is an organization that works to support those on hospice. They offer support, training sessions and conferences, and continue to campaign for palliative care to be fully included in the Health Basket. For more information click here.
This organization has a website with a lot of helpful information on aging, as well as information such as getting Bituach Leumi, long term care, hiring a foreign worker, assisted living options, and more. Click here to find all this information and more in English.