Understanding Hospice Referrals to Funeral Homes

nurse in gray scrubs speaking with a patient on a couch

Losing a loved one is a delicate process. The care professionals involved in hospice must eventually determine when to refer grieving families to funeral homes to start making arrangements. In these times, hospice care can become a beacon of comfort, dignity, and support to the departing patient and their loved ones left behind. Learn the process of how hospice refers families to funeral homes and why these moments are so crucial to coping with this difficult time.

The Transition From Hospice to Funeral Arrangements

Understanding the hospice process is the first step that loved ones should take to start coping with this emotional time. From the time a patient is transferred to hospice care, a doctor will have certified that they have six months or less time left to live or have experienced a significant decline in cognitive and physical ability. This typically occurs when palliative care will be more beneficial than continuing to try medical methods that have shown no improvement.

Once in hospice, loved ones understandably are constantly wondering which visit will be the last. It’s the job of hospice workers to provide emotional support, pain management, and sometimes spiritual guidance during this time. They act as compassionate advocates, listening to and empathizing with families. When the time comes, they initiate the transition to funeral homes with sensitivity. 

How Funeralocity plays into the funeral home referral process

Funeralocity serves as an excellent resource that hospice workers can use themselves or refer to patients and their families. We are a consumer advocate in the death-care industry, and do not charge hospice workers or their patients for using our services while searching for funeral homes.

The Importance of Timely and Sensitive Communication

The concept of death is an intimidating and scary topic for most people. For loved ones and the patient, it’s beneficial to have hospice workers who understand the nuances of communicating difficult news. Hospice nurses and social workers play important roles in funeral planning during hospice, providing assistance with funeral arrangements and advising them on the right time to begin. 

These heroes of hospice often experience compassion fatigue, which is when someone becomes physically and emotionally exhausted after caring for someone with trauma or intense healthcare needs for a prolonged period. This is particularly salient in hospice environments with patients nearing death. Even if hospice workers are prepared for this environment, long hours and more intense situations can lead to burnout. This can lead to irritability, anger, and despondency, affecting the quality of care they can provide. 

Fortunately, hospice workers can use this unique situation to empathize with loved ones going through the caretaking process. Staff must learn how to practice self-care, like eating regular meals and reaching out for professional help if needed. This gives them valuable insight into how important it is to take care of yourself while looking after someone in hospice. They can relay this knowledge to loved ones and urge them to practice self-care and take breaks when needed.

Taking any time away from someone in hospice can make loved ones feel guilty when there is little time left. However, hospice workers can use timely and sensitive communication to alleviate some of that burden. Positive communication among hospice caregivers and families during the transition to funeral planning can make all the difference when it’s time to broach that subject.

Criteria for Referring Families to Funeral Homes

Often, doctors and social workers will address situations to determine the estimated timelines of hospice patients. This is typically between one and three months but can vary greatly depending on various factors. If the patients are lucid and wish to participate in their funeral arrangements, this can certainly be arranged. Otherwise, the families and loved ones will take the reins in funeral planning. This can be done far ahead of time or at the advice of a doctor to work with a more specific timeframe.

Benefits of Planning Ahead for End-of-Life Arrangements

Planning for end-of-life services is something that is best done several weeks or months in advance of necessity. This way, when the time comes, everything will be arranged, and loved ones can focus on grieving and coping with the loss. The emotions during this time can be high, so making decisions beforehand can offer the clarity needed to make the right choices.

If hospice patients wish, they can discuss their preferences, wishes, and health-related decisions with doctors. Tech can help older adults stay in touch with family and care providers during this time to discuss arrangements remotely. These conversations can lay the groundwork for informed funeral arrangements, but they aren’t always possible. 

Families can preplan end-of-life arrangements with their loved ones in mind, crafting their personalities and wishes into the service. Whether it’s a favorite poem, a cherished hobby, or a specific flower arrangement, pre-planning allows for intentional personalization. It also ensures families have time to find services within their budget and allows them to make informed decisions.

Ultimate Goals of Hospice Referrals to Funeral Homes

Above all, the goal of hospice referrals to funeral homes is to make the transition as seamless as possible. End-of-life care is difficult enough without having to worry about the timing and details of funeral arrangements. At the heart of hospice referrals lies profound respect and compassion for life’s final moments. Doctors, staff, and loved ones all work together to ensure that the departed receive dignified care into their final moments and beyond. 

With compassionate and timely communication, hospice care workers can successfully deliver news and advice regarding funeral arrangements to loved ones and patients. This eases the transition to funeral homes from hospice care and allows the celebration of life to commence authentically.

Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. Follow her on Twitter.

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