What does hospice mean in veterinary medicine? A modern “hospice” style of care in human medicine was developed within the past 50 years and was meant to create a safe and loving place for a person to die. Hospice for humans can be a ward in a hospital, a free-standing building, or within the patient’s home. A fundamental concept in human hospice is that the model for caregiving shifts from doctor-and-hospital to nurses-and-family.
There is not a black and white definition of hospice in veterinary medicine. In human hospice, a person is kept comfortable until their natural death. In veterinary hospice, a pet is kept comfortable until euthanasia or until natural death occurs. Most veterinary hospice services are in agreement that euthanasia is appropriate only when every effort to palliate the pet has been attempted, or when a poor quality of life dictates the decision. We have many tools to help our clients objectively determine if their pet is in pain or suffering. Our primary goal is to help guide our clients through the end of lifeprocess as gracefully as possible.
What is palliative care? “Palliative care” is an umbrella term for any care that does not involve the use of heroics or hospitalization. The term “palliative” differs from the term “hospice” in that hospice only includes a patient with a terminal diagnosis (less than 3 months to live). The Oradell Animal Hospital CARES program meets the needs of both hospice and palliative patients, as we have found that pets with long-term medical conditions can also benefit from this style of care.
How will my pet benefit? Invariably this is the most important question for a client choosing to pursue a home-care program for their pet. We believe that CARES can benefit anyone with extensive medical needs because we maintain the same high quality standard of care that your pet would receive in the hospital, but we bring it to your home. Your pet is the most comfortable in your home, and in-home nursing visits or in-home euthanasia often reduces the incidence of pain, stress, and even aggression for your pet. Our human clients benefit from CARES, also. We are always available to our clients via telephone or text, and we can accommodate house calls within 24 hours notice. We also work closely with a licensed social worker for additional bereavement support. In addition, in most cases the Oradell CARES program is more cost efficient than repeated or protracted hospitalizations, and we feel it is a more appropriate style of care for patients with terminal or incurable disease.
What if my pet gets better? It is possible that your pet could maintain a good quality of life beyond what would be expected, even in cases where a pet has been given a terminal diagnosis. In fact, we have found that many of our cases out-live our expectations. Our treatment plans often involve regular in-home evaluations by our technicians. The frequency of the nursing and/or doctor visits will decrease if your pet is comfortable and doing well. In rare cases, the pet may even “graduate” from CARES and go back to a more conventional style of care that involves office visits to the hospital.
Will you be leaving medical waste at my house? No, any medical supplies we bring to your house will be carried out by us.
What happens if I need help in the middle of the night? If a situation arises in the middle of the night you will be directed to call our hospital emergency service directly. Your pet’s case is documented as a CARES case and the nursing team will be notified so the staff can be updated on the medical plan created for your pet.
How much does it cost? – The CARES program is a cost efficient way to treat your pet if you have opted not to treat them in the hospital. The treatments can be performed with the same amount of technical expertise with the additional comfort of the pet being in your own home. We offer a comprehensive package that includes an initial in-hospital consultation, a follow-up doctor visit in your home, travel fees for both the doctor and technicians, and six 45-minute technician visits to your home. You also will have a dedicated CARES phone number available if you have any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s health and comfort.
How often do you come to the house? Depending on your pet’s disease and needs will determine how often our staff will be visiting your house. We can visit as often as daily or as little as once a month depending on the treatment services recommended for your pet’s disease. We will always schedule our visits beforehand and at your convenience so you are able to be present during the visit.
Do I have to be home for the home visits? Yes, you must be at home for all home visits. They will be scheduled ahead of time between you and the technical staff.
I live a far distance from the hospital. Will you still come to my house? We have a certain distance we are able to travel. You can inquire further to see if we are able to help.
How do I enroll? To enroll in the CARES program you must first bring your pet in for an exam. Dr. Heather Troyer will then consult with your veterinarian on your pet’s health. Dr. Troyer will determine the best means of care for your pet.
Can I still have my pet euthanized at home if I am not a CARES client? No, you must bring your pet to the hospital or to your regular veterinarian.
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