Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hospice is gone! I just wish I had learned that lesson quicker…

I continued my efforts to investigate the cost of Mom’s care.  As I said before, the facility had just a minor glitch and quickly fixed it.  I then started the audit of the hospice charges of almost $3,800 per month.  My first step was to ask the hospice provider for an itemized bill from the beginning of the year when they took over Mom’s care. 

After more than a week and emails back and forth, I finally received a print out of the charges.  Sounds good, right?  Nope.  Their “itemized” bill just showed daily charges of almost $121 per day for each day of the month.  Oh my goodness!  For that amount, they should have been with her daily for at least half a day!

My next step was to request all of Mom’s medical and care records.  Although they already had my paperwork showing that I have health care power of attorney, they insisted I fill out a form for their records.  I can understand that in other situations but in this case, I filled in my name as the both the requester and the approver of the request because Mom is unable to do that – hence the HCPOA paperwork that was done some years ago.

Once they received the form, they were willing to send me the records and I asked that they email or fax them to me.  My contact came back to say they would have to overnight them because there were more than 300 pages.  When I questioned it, she told me that “there’s been a lot done”.  Hmmm…

So I received the package and reviewed the pages.  It really didn’t take long once I figured out that each encounter generated between 5 and 10 pages filled with the same information.   The actual visits to Mom totaled about 14 a month with individual visits lasting typically less than one hour:
  •          Showering provided twice a week
  •          A nurse visit once a week
  •          A visit from the chaplain once a month
  •          A visit from the social worker once a month

So, that comes to about $270 an hour.

As I’ve said before, hospice is a good thing in many instances.  Hospice provides family counseling, medication and case management for the patient, and other services.  For a family going through the journey of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia for the first time, it would be helpful to guide them through the later stages.

For my family, this isn’t our first rodeo.  We lived it with Daddy and Mom, as Daddy’s caregiver, set the best example possible for us to follow now.  We’re ready for what comes whether it be tomorrow or five years from now.  We just want Mom happy and comfortable until that time comes and given that Mom doesn’t take any medication and isn’t having pain from the mass in her abdomen, the care she receives 24/7 from the staff at her home is all she needs.

So, I signed the order today to stop hospice.  Over the past week, after discussions with the management at Mom’s home and her caregiver, I have purchased a wheelchair, a rolling shower commode, and a gel mattress overlay for the bed they will provide for Mom.  I purchased all that for less than 13% of just one month’s hospice charge!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

And she sleeps...

When I left to visit Mom this morning, I planned to manicure her nails.  They have gotten very long but I've been visiting with little one(s) in tow and haven't had the opportunity to do the job.  My sister always carries a file and she keeps them smooth but Mom's nails, like mine, grow unbelievably fast.  Must be where I get that trait.

So, I arrived today to find Mom sound asleep in her favorite rocking chair, legs sprawled out in front of her.  It was so cute.  She had slid down a bit and every once in awhile, she would use her feet to rock - just a bit.  I touched her and rubbed her arm a bit, even gave her a kiss, but she didn't wake up.  She opened her eyes at one point and saw me but I don't think it really registered because she fell right back.  All the while, she was sitting right next to the computer and speakers that the RNA was using to play the Price is Right and Who Wants to be a Millionaire with the residents.  She was not sitting in a quiet area! 

I got out the clippers and file thinking that the manicure would wake her up.  Nope!  I did both hands, clipped and filed, and she never opened her eyes.  Changed position slightly at one point but didn't wake.  

As she slipped a little lower in the chair, the RNA and I worked together to lift her and put the chair cushions in their proper place.  Still she didn't wake.  I rubbed her back before leaning her back into the chair.  Still didn't wake.  God love her!  I know I do!
Sound asleep but all manicured!