When Death Occurs in Home Hospice Care
Cremations are among the cremation services offered in Sun City, AZ, but some of the deceased may have been in home hospice care at the end of their lives and until they died. When someone dies while under home hospice care, a process is initiated for both the family of the deceased and for the home hospice agency that ensures respectful and proper transfer of the body from home to the funeral home.
People are admitted to home hospice care for a very specific health problem that is serious enough that death is expected within six months or when they don’t want to have any more medical treatment. Home hospice staff (usually a nurse with the agency) will come to the home for the first consultation visit with the family and the loved one who is ill (if they are cognizant enough to participate). A social worker and chaplain may also come for this visit, or they may come later after enrollment in home hospice care has begun.
The home hospice nurse admits the patient to hospice care. Any medication that the patient takes for the illness or disease that they are being admitted for is provided by the hospice agency (usually within 24 hours after being admitted). Any additional medications that are used for other conditions and illnesses must be provided by the patient and/or family.
As part of the home hospice care admission, the admitting nurse will order a comfort care kit. This kit is shipped overnight to the patient’s home. The kit contains the end-of-life medications, such as morphine, and accessories to help keep the patient comfortable as they near the very end of life and die.
The home hospice agency will also arrange for any medical equipment that may be needed, including oxygen, hospital beds, walkers, and portable toilets, to be delivered to the patient’s house.
After someone is admitted to home hospice, they will be visited by hospice nurses. Depending on how near death is, visits can range from once a week to two or three times a day. If needed, the home hospice agency will also provide aides to help with bathing and dressing. They average two to three visits a week, so the family will provide the rest of these needs on days when aides don’t visit.
Some home hospice agencies have volunteers who can provide short periods of respite care, so that family members can run errands like getting groceries or picking up medications. The home hospice agency volunteers cannot assist with any personal care or needs. However, they can provide companionship for the patient while their families are gone.
When the patient begins to actively die, the home hospice nurse will start a morphine administration schedule, which the family will be responsible for taking care. Generally the initial morphine doses are low and widely spread out, but as death approaches, the amount of morphine given increases and there is less time between each dose. This ensures that that the patient is completely comfortable and in no pain when they die. The patient will eventually become unresponsive, which is normal in the dying process, but the amount of time in which this occurs before death varies from individual to individual.
The home hospice nurse will not be at the home when the patient dies. However, they should be the first phone call the family makes after death. A nurse will get there fast and will officially pronounce the patient dead and call the time of death.
Then the nurse will call the funeral home to arrange for transportation. While the nurse is waiting for the funeral home staff to arrive, they will clean and dress the body for the trip to the funeral home. Once the body leaves for the funeral home, the home hospice nurse dispose of all the medications that the home hospice agency provided. This will include all the medications for the hospice illness and all the contents of the comfort care kit.
For more information about cremation services provided in Sun City, AZ, our compassionate and experienced team at Simply Cremation & Funeral Arrangements is here to help. You can come to our funeral home at 16952 W. Bell Rd., #303, Surprise, AZ, 85374, or you can contact us today at (623) 975-9393.