What is Hospice?

“You matter because of who you are.  You matter to the last moment of your life,” says Dame Cicely Saunders, the Founder of the modern hospice movement.

Hospice is a philosophy, not a place.  The Hospice philosophy is a form of comprehensive care that provides comfort and support to patients and their families with life-limiting illnesses.

When to Contact Hospice:

An inquiry regarding hospice services can be initiated by anyone at any time.  When you or a loved one are faced with a terminal illness with a limited life expectancy and your goal changes from curative to comfort, it may be time to call for a hospice consult.  Patient eligibility for hospice is based upon the following:

  • Patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness
  • Patient’s life expectancy is limited to six months or less
  • Patient refuses or is not eligible for aggressive, curative life-prolonging treatments
  • Patient and family are active participants in the plan of care.

Who Pays for Hospice Services?

Hospice is covered by Medicare at 100%.  The benefits cover the interdisciplinary team’s services, medications, equipment, and supplies related to the patient’s life-limiting illness.  Hospice care is also covered under Medicaid and many commercial insurance plans.

Where can Hospice take Place?

Hospice care can take place wherever a patient calls home.  This may include a personal residence, nursing facility, assisted living residence, or a hospital setting.  If pain or symptoms cannot be controlled at home, the patient has the opportunity to be evaluated for an inpatient hospice level of care.  Hospice services that take place in a skilled facility may require that patient to pay for room and board.  As a resident of a nursing and/or assisted living facility, you have the right to choose an independent provider that you feel would work best with your family and loved one.

Who takes care of a Hospice Patient?

Reputable Hospice organizations have an interdisciplinary team approach for care.  The team consists of professionals who compassionately work together to provide patients and their families with holistic choices and dignity. The team consists of highly specialized healthcare professionals that include:

  • Medical Director along with patient’s personal physician
  • Nurses/Pharmacists/Therapists
  • Social workers
  • Chaplains
  • Home Health Aides
  • Volunteers

A team member is usually on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions, discuss concerns and visit patients when needed.

Bereavement Support:

People who have not experienced great grief may think there’s a timetable for recovery.  They often don’t mention the loved one who has died because it makes them uncomfortable.  Yet, people often need to talk about those who have died- not just to mourn their death, but to celebrate their life.

The beauty of hospice services is the bereavement program that is provided for family and friends following the death of the patient. Many hospice programs support the emotional times, such as holidays and the anniversary death during the following year.  Support programs are often offered at no charge and are open to all.

“Hospice is often viewed as only a place where people go to die and even though death is the end result, hospice is so much more.  It is a philosophy with compassion, comfort, love and heroes.”

~Family member of patient


About the author

I am passionate about sharing senior citizen news and resources discovered from both my profession and personal journey.

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