March 5, 2017

Hospice FAQ

What is Hospice Care

Hospice care is a program of care and support for people who are terminally ill. Here are some important facts about hospice:

  • Hospice helps people who are terminally ill live comfortably.
  • Hospice isn’t only for people with cancer.
  • The focus is on comfort, not on curing an illness.
  • A specially trained team of professionals and caregivers provide care for the “whole person,” including physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.
  • Services typically include physical care, counseling, drugs, equipment, and supplies for the terminal illness and related conditions.
  • Care is generally provided in the home.
  • Family caregivers can get support.

How do I get hospice care:

  • Your hospice doctor and your regular doctor (if you have one) certify that you’re terminally ill (with a life expectancy of 6 months or less).
  • You accept palliative care (for comfort) instead of care to cure your illness.
  • You sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered treatments for your terminal illness and related conditions.

Note: Only your hospice doctor and your regular doctor (if you have one) can certify that you’re terminally ill and have 6 months or less to live.

What happens if my health improves or my illness goes into remission

If your health improves or your illness goes into remission, you may no longer need hospice care. You always have the right to stop hospice care at any time. If you choose to stop hospice care, you will be asked to sign a form that includes the date your care will end. You shouldn’t be asked to sign any forms about stopping your hospice care at the time you start hospice. Stopping hospice care is a choice only you can make, and you should not sign or date any forms until the actual date that you want your hospice care to stop. If you stop your hospice care, you’ll get the type of Medicare coverage you had before you chose a hospice provider, like Original Medicare, a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), or another type of Medicare health plan. If you’re eligible, you can go back to hospice care at any time.

Is hospice available after office hours?

Hospice care is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. We have nurses on-call and respond within minutes, if necessary. We are always a phone call away for any questions you need ask.

What happens if I cannot stay at home due to my increasing care need and require a different place to stay during my final phase of life?

Our hospice have arrangements with inpatient residential centers and other freestanding hospice facilities to care for patients who cannot stay  where they usually live. Our patients may require a different place to live during this phase of their life when they need extra care.  However, care in these settings is not covered under the Medicare or Medicaid Hospice Benefit.  It is best to find out, well before hospice may be needed, if insurance or any other payer covers this type of care or if patients/families will be responsible for payment.

Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?

The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy or friends.

What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?

Hospice patients are cared for by a team consisting of a physician, a nurse, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and volunteers. Each one provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, hospices provide medications, supplies, equipment, and other services related to the terminal illness.

Is hospice care covered by insurance?

Hospice coverage is widely available. It is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in 47 states, and by most private insurance providers. To be sure of coverage, families should, of course, check with their employer or health insurance provider.

Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?

Most hospices provide continuing contact and support for caregivers for at least a year following the death of a loved one. Many hospices also sponsor bereavement groups and support for anyone in the community who has experienced a death of a family member, a friend, or similar losses.

How does hospice “manage pain”?

Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so it can address each. Hospice nurses and doctors are up to date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. In addition,  our staff can assist patients to be as mobile and self sufficient as they wish, and they are sometimes joined by staff schooled in music therapy, pet therapy, massage and aroma therapy . Finally, various counselors, including clergy, are available to assist family members as well as patients.