What is Hospice?

Hospice care is a special way of caring for people who are terminally ill. Hospice recognizes dying as a part of the normal process of living and focuses on maintaining the quality of life. Hospice affirms life and does not hasten death. Hospice exists in the hope and belief that through the appropriate care, patients and their families may be free to obtain mental and spiritual preparation for death. Hospice is a philosophy of care that focuses on treating symptoms and bringing comfort to the patient and their family: Hospice care does not focus on a cure but rather on lessening the burdens associated with a terminal illness. The focus of Hospice care is on the individual person, not the disease. The hospice team will tailor its care around each individual’s specific needs. When there is no cure available, Hospice will be there to provide care, support, education and a listening ear. The goal of Hospice care is to relieve pain and uncomfortable symptoms that are present as a result of a terminal illness: This care is given in the comfort of a person’s home, nursing home, or assisted living facility. Wherever a person lives, Hospice care will come to them. Hospice care focuses on the intense physical, emotional and spiritual issues that arise at the end of life by providing nursing, home health aide, social worker, chaplain, and bereavement visits for the patient and their family. Hospice pays for all medications that are directly related to the terminal condition. Hospice provides all the medical equipment a person needs to remain at home in safety and comfort.

Who Qualifies for Hospice?

Hospice care is not just for the final days of a terminal illness. Many patients and their families benefit from hospice services for six months or longer. Hospice allows loved ones to remain at their home or long-term care facility instead of taking multiple trips to a doctor’s office or hospital. Many of the patients served through hospice continue to lead productive and rewarding lives. If the patient lives beyond the initial six months, he or she can continue receiving hospice care as long as the attending physician re-certifies that the patient is terminally ill. Hospice care is not only for cancer patients. Other frequent admission diagnoses include but not limited to are: diseases of the circulatory system; infectious and parasitic diseases, which includes human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); diseases of the nervous system and sense organs, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, meningitis, etc.; and diseases of the respiratory system.

How is my doctor involved in hospice care?

Hospice partners with each patient's physician. Hospice works closely with the primary physician and considers the continuation of the patient-physician relationship to be of the highest priority. The hospice nurse continues to receive orders from the patient’s physician in order to provide the highest quality of care.

How much does hospice cost?

Hospice is a benefit of Medicare and Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations include hospice care as a benefit. When a patient goes on hospice it is important to remember that Medicare will still pay for covered benefits for any health problems that are not related to the terminal illness. Hospice Care of America does not charge their patients or family members for any services used in regard to the patient's terminal diagnosis.

Can I receive hospice care in a nursing home?

Hospice services come to the patient whether they live at home or in a long term care facility. Every patient is entitled to the same hospice services which includes a nurse, home health aide, social worker, chaplain, volunteer, bereavement coordinator and excellent care. Each hospice staff member is highly trained and specializes in end-of-life care.

How long can I get hospice care?

Any patient can continue receiving hospice services as long as their doctor and the hospice medical director or other hospice doctor certifies that they are terminally ill and he/she would not be surprised if they had six months or less to live if the disease ran its normal course. If a patient lives longer than six months, they can still receive hospice care, as long as the hospice medical director or other hospice doctor certifies that they are still terminally ill.

Does hospice mean I’m giving up hope?

Hospice helps patients and their families to understand that even though death can lead to sadness, anger, and pain, it can also lead to opportunities for reminiscing, laughter, reunion, and hope—hope that hospice will enable a patient to live his or her life to its fullest.

When is it time to consider hospice?

• When a person learns they have a terminal illness
• When a person’s physician believes they have only six months to live if disease runs its natural course
• When the goal of care is not cure, but rather comfort and quality of life
• When cure is no longer a realistic goal or the burden of curative treatment is greater than the benefits
• When a person wishes to have all their physical, emotional and spiritual needs met from their own home
• When a person no longer wishes to have their illness managed from a hospital or clinic and wishes for
comprehensive health care to be brought to their home

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