Some people are surprised to learn that the Medicare Hospice benefit includes Occupational, Physical and Speech therapies. But life-limiting illness does not mean letting go of the quality of life. Hospice is about living a full and meaningful life. Therapies can be very helpful in extending the time a Hospice patient can function with maximum independence.
Speech & Language Therapy
Speech therapy is especially appropriate in Hospice, helping to address the physical changes that come with progressive illness and strong medications.
The Speech Therapist’s chief role is to support the patient in communicating – whether through speech or alternative means. They help the Hospice patient tell the important life stories, resolve concerns, and to express emotions in ways that may lead to comfort and peace.
Speech Therapists also help with exercises designed to aid in swallowing and can offer ideas on foods, textures, and cooking techniques that make foods easier to handle. Breathing and speech patterns can be retrained following a period of radiation or brain trauma such as stroke.
At a time when expressions of love and compassion are so important, speech therapy is a vital part of any Hospice plan. Unfinished family business can be resolved and expressions shared with ease.
The Hospice Registered Physical Therapist’s chief role is to assess the patient’s ability to move about safely in the home or Hospice setting. They resolve problems with walking, getting in and out of the bed or chair, from wheelchair to car. They may suggest a different layout for a room or other setting and suggest equipment to boost the patient’s ability to move about.
The Physical Therapist may work with the patient to strengthen muscles and reduce pain through therapeutic massage and progressive relaxation techniques. The Hospice patient’s safety and comfort are well assured.
The Registered Occupational Therapists (OTR) may be called in to evaluate the patient’s ability to accomplish all the activities of everyday life – getting dressed, bathing, brushing teeth, lifting a spoon or drinking from a glass. If there are difficulties in accomplishing these tasks, the OTR may introduce new ways to accomplish old tasks. Sometimes a simple improvement in adaptive equipment or an assistive device can make all the difference.
Registered Occupational Therapists can help the Hospice patient conserve energy by doing things in an easier way. They are a priceless boost to the patient’s quality of life, dignity and a restored sense of self-esteem.
The Right to Hospice Therapy Services
Some doctors or health care workers remain unaware that therapies are insured under the Medicare Hospice benefit. Upper Peninsula Hospice definitely provides these services! If your physician or discharge planner does not mention them as part of your Hospice plan of care, ask your RN case manager to arrange these vital services.