FOR PATIENTS AND FAMILIES
Hospice is a philosophy of care. It is focused around the patient and their loved family and friends. The goal of hospice is to preserve the quality of life for a terminally ill patient so that they may spend their last days with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones. Hospice aims to treat the patient rather than the disease; therefore, it involves the patient and family in making decisions. Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying but it provides with presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process. Hospice care is typically given in the home but if needed, it may be given in a hospital, nursing home, or a private hospice facility.
Hospice care is meant for the time when all other treatments can no longer help you, and you are expected to live 6 months or less. Hospice provides you with palliative care, which is treatment to help relieve disease-related symptoms, such as pain, but not cure the disease. You, your family, and your doctor decide together when hospice care should begin.
Often, patients and families don’t start hospice care soon enough because they believe that by starting hospice care, they are giving up. This is not the case. If you get progressively better while in the hospice program, you can be taken out and go into treatment once again. The decision is always in your hands. Hillcrest Hospice strives to bring back your quality of life and make the best of each day during the last stages of your illness.
Hospice care is a benefit of the Medicare program and is also covered by Medicaid. Most private insurance companies, HMO’s and managed care plans also offer hospice care as a benefit.
Bakersfield Community Hospice wants all our patients to know and understand their rights to make medical treatment decisions. We comply with California laws and court decisions on patient’s rights regarding.
• The rights of patients to make their own treatment decisions.
• The rights of patient to have a surrogate decision maker speak for them in the event they are unable to speak for themselves.
• Treatment options (such as rights of patients to refuse any medical treatment or request any existing treatment to be discontinued.)
• Advanced Directives.
Click here for a California Advance Health Directive Form
WHO DECIDES ABOUT MY TREATMENT?
Your doctors will give you information and advice about treatment. You have the right to choose. You can say “Yes” to treatments you want. You can say “No” to any treatment you don’t want – even if the treatment might keep you alive longer.
WHAT IF I’M TOO SICK TO DECIDE?
If you can’t make treatment decisions, your doctor will ask your closest available relative or friend to help decide what is best for you. Most of the time, that works. But sometimes everyone doesn’t agree about what to do. That’s why it is helpful if you say in advance what you want to happen if you can’t speak for yourself. There are several kinds of “advance directives” that you can use to say what you want and who you want to speak for you.
One kind of advance directive under California law lets you name someone to make health care decisions when you can’t. This form is called a DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE.
WHO CAN FILL OUT THIS FORM?
You can if you are 18 years old or older and of sound mind. You do not need a lawyer to fill it out.
WHO CAN I NAME TO MAKE MEDICAL TREATMENT DECISIONS WHEN I’M UNABLE TO DO SO?
You can choose and adult relative or friend you trust as you “agent” to speak for you when you’re too sick to make your own decisions.
HOW DOES THIS PERSON KNOW WHAT I WOULD WANT?
After you choose someone, talk to that person about what you want. You can also write down in the DURABLE POWER OF ATTOURNEY FOR HEALTH CARE when you would or wouldn’t want medical treatment. Talk to your doctor about what you want and give your doctor a copy of the form. Give another copy to the person named as your agent. And take a copy with you when you go into a hospital or treatment facility.
Sometimes treatment decisions are hard to make and it truly helps your family and your doctors if they know what you want. The DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE also gives them legal protection when they follow your wishes.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ANYBODY TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR ME?
You can use another kind of advance directive to write down your wishes about treatment. This is often called a “living will” because it takes effect while you are still alive but have become unable to speak for yourself. The California Natural Death Act lets you sign a living will called a DECLARATION. When you sign a DECLARATION it tells your doctors that you don’t want any treatment that would only prolong your dying. All life-sustaining treatment would be stopped if you were terminally ill and your death was expected soon, or if you were permanently unconscious. You would still receive treatment to keep you comfortable, however.
The doctor must follow your wishes about limiting treatment or turn your care over to another doctor who will. Your doctors are also legally protected when they follow your wishes.
ARE THERE OTHER LIVING WILLS I CAN USE?
Instead of using the DECLARATION in the Natural Death Act, you can use any of the available living will forms. You can use a DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE form without naming an agent. Or you can just write down your wishes on a piece of paper. Your doctors and family can use what you write in deciding about your treatment. But living wills that don’t meet the requirements of the Natural Death Act don’t give as much legal protection for your doctors if a disagreement arises about following your wishes.
WHAT IF I CHANGE MY MIND?
You can change or revoke any of these documents at any time as long as you can communicate your wishes.
DO I HAVE TO FILL OUT ONE OF THESE FORMS?
No, you don’t have to fill out any of these forms if you don’t want to. You can just talk with your doctors and ask them to write down what you’ve said in your medical chart. And you can talk with your family. But people will be clearer about your treatment wishes if you write them down. And your wishes are more likely to be followed if you write them down.
WILL I STILL BE TREATED IF I DON’T FILL OUT THESE FORMS?
Absolutely. You will still get medical treatment. We just want you to know that, if you become too sick to make decisions, someone else will have to make them for you.
A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE lets you name someone to make treatment decisions for you. That person can make most medical decisions- not just those about life-sustaining treatment – when you can’t speak for yourself. Besides naming an agent, you can also use to form to say when you would and wouldn’t want particular kinds of treatment.
If you don’t have someone you want to name to make decisions what you can’t, you can sign a NATURAL DEATH ACT DECLARATION saying that you do not want life-prolonging treatment if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious.
HOW CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ADVANCE DIRECTIVES?
Hillcrest Hospice physicians, nurses, and social workers are ready to answer any questions you may have about advanced directives
Looking for more information, let us know.
3400 Calloway Dr., Suite 100
Bakersfield, CA 93312
Bakersfield Community Hospice is a
Joint Commission Accredited Organization
Gold Seal of Approval