FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is provided to patients and their families with the focus on caring and comfort rather than curing. Hospice provides a variety of services including pain and symptom management with emotional and spiritual support. Support is also provided to the patient’s loved ones. All provided care is tailored to the wishes and needs of the particular patient and their family. Services are available to patients with any terminal illness, of any race, religion, or age.
What determines hospice eligibility?
Admission to hospice is determined by the patient’s terminal diagnosis. A doctor must certify the patient is expected to lives six months or less if the illness follows the expected course. Additionally, the patient must decide if hospice philosophy of focusing on comfort (instead of curing) is what the patient wants.
Who pays for hospice?
Medicare Part A covers hospice 100%. Most private insurances and Medicaid cover most, if not all of the cost of hospice.
Should a patient wait for the doctor to discuss hospice?
The patient and family can bring up hospice or end-of-life care at any time with the physician. In fact, it is recommended to bring it up early so patients and their families have time to think about and discuss their options and wishes. It’s better to have a plan in place rather than waiting until a patient experiences a medical crisis or is very near death.
Do I have to have an advance directive?
No. Advance directives can be very helpful for family members, but aren’t required. At the time of admission to hospice, the patient (or decision maker) will be asked about end-of-life preferences. If the patient is not ready to make a decision, hospice will still accept the patient, continue to answer questions, and provide information regarding end-of-life care.
Does hospice provide 24-hour care?
Yes, but only if the patient meets certain medical criteria. Your hospice nurse determines when this level of care is appropriate. However, if a patient/family is requesting assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, toileting, or dressing, hospice is not able to provide 24-hour care for those needs. The hospice team can help assist with ways to put services in place for these needs if the family or caregiver wishes.
Where do patients receive hospice services?
Patients receive hospice care in their homes which include apartments, private residences, assisted living facilities, group homes, or nursing homes.
Does the doctor come to my house?
The doctor can and does make house calls when needed. Most of the time, the doctor can give orders to the nurse over the phone without being present.
How often does the nurse come to my house?
The nurse will usually come about once a week. However, frequency of nursing visits is determined based on the patient’s needs. The nurse can and will come more often when needed.
How often does the rest of the hospice team come to my house?
Visits from other members of the hospice team are determined by the needs and desires of the patient and caregivers. Home health aides can come five days a week if needed. After meeting with the chaplain and social worker, a plan is formed for how often they will make visits. The frequency of visits from any team member can change as needed.
Does accepting hospice care mean I am giving up or going to die sooner?
No! Hospice changes the focus of medical care. Rather than aggressively treating an illness, hospice care is all about making the patient as comfortable and symptom-free as possible. Many studies have shown that accepting hospice care actually prolongs life.
Is it okay to have my loved one die at home?
Yes. Death is the end of life. And, in the case of hospice, it is expected. Our hospice team can help make it a very peaceful transition. After death has occurred, hospice makes the phone calls and helps prepare the body. Someone from hospice will remain with the body until the funeral home arrives.
Does hospice provide any services to families after the patient dies?
Yes, hospice provides bereavement support to loved ones for one year following death.
Can a hospice patient go to the hospital?
The goal of hospice is to treat the patient in the home. Generally, going to the hospital is considered a change in treatment course from comfort care, back to aggressive treatment. Please notify a team member if you go to the hospital or are thinking about revoking hospice services.
Can a hospice patient change his/her mind and go back to aggressive care?
Yes, patients are able to revoke hospice at any time.
How does hospice treat pain?
Hospice nurses and doctors are well trained with the use of pain medications. We also believe pain can be rooted in spiritual and emotional needs. As a team, all of these factors will be examined to help come up with the most effective treatment plan possible.
Is hospice available at all times?
Yes, hospice is available 24 hours a day.