Determining the appropriate hospice care for you or a loved one is an overwhelming task to take on during an already difficult time. Below are answers to frequently asked questions about hospice care:

What is hospice?

Hospice, or end-of-life care, emphasizes pain management and symptom control rather than curative treatment. It affirms life and regards dying as a normal process. Hospice neither hastens nor postpones death. It provides personalized services and a caring community so that patients and families can attain the necessary preparation for a death that is satisfactory to them. At the center of hospice is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so.

Who can receive hospice care?

Hospice care is appropriate if your doctor and the hospice medical director certify that you have a life-limiting illness, and if the disease runs its normal course, death may be expected in six months or less. At times, a disease does not run its normal course and patients may be on hospice services for periods longer than six months. Hospice care provides comfort and support for patients with all types of illnesses including cancer, heart, lung, vascular, kidney and neuromuscular diseases, all types of dementia, and AIDS. If you feel that you or a loved one may benefit from hospice care, we are only a phone call away. A member of our experienced staff can work with you and your physician to determine if hospice care is right for you. If you prefer to be contacted via e-mail, please Contact Us and we will promptly reply to your request.

Who is involved in the hospice process?

Coming soon.

Who pays for hospice care?

Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-Cal and most major private insurance providers pay for hospice care. If a patient does not have any payment support from insurance, then he or she may pay all or part of the bill personally. The important thing to remember is that no one is denied service because of an inability to pay.

Does hospice cover medication?

The hospice benefit covers all medications related to the hospice diagnosis. When you are admitted to hospice care, there will be a reason, or a diagnosis, for why you are eligible for care. If medications are related to the pain and symptom management of that diagnosis, hospice will cover the cost of those medications.

Should I wait for the physician to recommend hospice, or should I ask if hospice care is appropriate?

The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care with their physician at any time. If the patient is an appropriate candidate for hospice care, the patient’s physician may choose to follow the patient and remain actively involved in the plan of care.

Can a hospice patient showing signs of recovery return to regular medical treatment?

Absolutely! If a patient‘s condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, the patient will be discharged from service, free to resume aggressive therapy and return to their daily life. If the patient’s condition later changes, Medicare, as well as most insurance providers, will allow additional coverage for this purpose.

Does electing hospice mean surrendering hope?

Choosing hospice care doesn’t mean giving up hope. It means you are opting for comfort and symptom management, thereby allowing you to regain control of your life

What if I change my mind about hospice care?

Hospice is a choice. Patients may choose to discontinue service at any time.

How long can I receive care?

Patients can receive care indefinitely as long as their condition remains appropriate for hospice care.

Is there any special equipment I need to have hospice care in my home?

Your case manager will work with you upon admission to assess your needs and help with obtaining any necessary medical equipment. Your needs will be reassessed throughout the continuum of care.

Who makes up the hospice team?

Coordinated patient care is comprised by a variety of disciplines working together with the family to provide care in the home, or wherever the patient calls home. The team includes, but is not limited to, the following disciplines:

The medical director serves as consultant to staff and referring physicians, attends team meetings and oversees the medical aspects of the hospice program.
The registered nurse (RN) is the team leader and performs the initial assessment. The RN monitors the patient’s condition, reporting changes and problems to the physician. After the initial assessment, a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) may perform many of the same tasks as the RN.
The medical social worker (MSW) provides psychosocial support for the patient, the family and the hospice staff. The MSW also assists with community referrals and financial concerns.
The home health aide provides personal care of the patient, such as bathing, shampooing the hair or changing the linens.
Chaplains are an important part of the hospice team and provide emotional and spiritual care support for the patients and their families. Chaplains, along with the bereavement team, can be an excellent resource for helping with funeral planning or a DVD life tribute.
Hospice volunteers help patients and families, just as a friend might, by assisting with household tasks, running errands, telephoning or visiting. They are a Medicare-mandated member of the team and invaluable to the care of each and every hospice patient.

Is hospice related to a certain religious group?

No, hospice originally dates back to medieval times when it was a place for weary travelers to find shelter and temporary respite. The word “hospice” comes from the Latin words “hospes” meaning host and “hospitium” meaning hospitality. Today, hospice is recognized as a program of palliative (comfort rather than curative) care and support designed to meet the unique needs of patients and families facing limited life expectancy. Services are provided through a medically directed team of professionals.

To find out more, and to see if hospice is right for you, click here.
(re-direct to a page containing this information]

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, hospice might be the right choice for you.

Have you or a loved one’s treatments stopped working?
Have you or a loved one had multiple hospitalizations or trips to the emergency room in the past six months?
Do you or a loved one take pain medication?
Have you or a loved one had multiple falls within the last six months?
Do you or a loved one have difficulty swallowing, or need assistance with bathing, dressing, walking or getting out of bed?
Have you or a loved one been told there are no further treatment options available or has your physician said your condition is life limiting?
Are you losing weight?
Do you or a loved one need caregiver support to help care for a loved one?
Is there any expectation for a meaningful recovery for you or a loved one?

Remember, choosing hospice does not mean you are “giving up.” On the contrary, there is so much more that can be done! We’re here to help improve the quality of your life so that you can get on about the business of living.

If you would like more information on this subject; please contact us or go to www.medicare.gov, search publications for “Hospice”, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).