FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who should make a decision about entering a hospice program and when should it be made?
Hospice care is appropriate for anyone with a life-limiting illness that has a predicted life expectancy of six months or less. At any time during an extended illness, it is important to discuss and acknowledge all of the patient’s care options, including hospice. Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping treatment efforts to cure the illness. Staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and are available to discuss them with the patient and family.
Should I wait for our physician to discuss hospice or should I mention 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.
Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
Yes. Sometimes, after receiving aggressive pain and symptom management from a hospice, the patient’s condition improves and he/she is able to resume curative treatments. In this case, the patient can choose to be discharged from hospice. If the discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private insurance providers will resume the benefit coverage.
What does the hospice admission process involve?
One of the first things our agency will do is contact the patient’s physician to make sure he/she agrees that hospice care is appropriate. (Hospice Family Care™ also has two local Medical Directors available to help patients who have no physician.) Next, an Intake & Admission Team (RN/SW) will visit the patient for an assessment and to discuss the patient’s and family’s goals as well as the goals of Hospice Family Care™.
Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?
Hospice Family Care™ will assess the patient’s needs, make recommendations, and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. Hospice Family Care™ will assist the patient and family to make home care as convenient and safe as possible.
How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?
There is no set number. The hospice team will develop an individualized Plan of Care that will address the amount and type of care needed by the patient. Hospice staff visit regularly and are always accessible to answer questions, provide support and teach caregivers.
Must someone be with the patient at all times?
That is determined by the patient and the amount and type of care required. However, since a common fear of patients is the fear of dying alone, Hospice Family Care™ generally recommends that someone be with the patient as much as possible. Hospice Family Care™ can also provide volunteers to assist with errands and to provide brief periods of respite for primary caregivers.
How difficult is caring for a dying loved one at home?
It’s never easy and sometimes can be quite hard. At the end of a long, progressive illness, nights especially can be very long, lonely and scary. Hospice Family Care™ has nursing staff on call 24-hours a day to consult by phone with the family and make night visits if appropriate.
What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?
Hospice patients are cared for by a team of physicians, nurses, social workers, hospice aides, clergy and volunteers. Each team member provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, Hospice Family Care™ provides medications, supplies and equipment related to the patient’s terminal illness.
Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
Hospice neither hastens death nor prolongs life. Just as doctors and nurses lend support and expertise during childbirth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.
My loved one lives in a nursing home. Will hospice care for him there, or must he be at home?
Hospice Family Care™ provides services to eligible patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as private residences.
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 the team seeks to address each type of pain. The hospice nurses and Medical Directors are up to date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. Treatment for our patients is based on the latest research and best-practice guidelines.
Social workers are also available to help the family plan for the end of life and to assist with any unresolved family issues. They also offer assistance with DNR orders, Advance Directives and funeral planning.
The chaplain is available upon request to meet with the patient and family to help sort through the powerful questions that sometimes arise when one is facing the end of life. The chaplain provides support in accordance with the patient’s and family’s beliefs and can bring a special spiritual comfort.
What is hospice’s success rate in managing pain?
Through the use of medications, counseling and adjunct therapies (e.g. music or massage therapy), most patients can attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them.
Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what’s happening?
Usually not. It is the goal of hospice to have the patient as pain-free and alert as possible. This maximizes time for the patient to successfully complete the journey of life, work through any unresolved issues and spend time with his or her loved ones. By closely monitoring the patient, providing frequent assessments and making changes to the Plan of Care as needed, Hospice Family Care™ has been very successful in reaching this goal.
Is Hospice Family Care™ affiliated with any religious organization?
Hospice Family Care™ is not affiliated with any religious organization. The philosophy of hospice care is based on caring for the entire person, and that includes providing physical, emotional and spiritual support. The chaplain is an important part of the team at Hospice Family Care™. Chaplain services are available upon request. Hospice Family Care™ does not seek to promote one church or religion over another. The staff will always respect and adhere to the beliefs of the patients and their families.
Is hospice care covered by insurance?
Hospice coverage is widely available. It is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance providers. To confirm individual coverage, families should check with their employer or health insurance provider.
If the patient is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will hospice still provide care?
Yes. The hospice social worker will assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage or support that is not being utilized. Hospice Family Care™ will provide services for those not covered by insurance. HFC is a United Way agency and that funding, along with funds raised in the community (memorials and contributions, etc.), allows us to do so.
Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
Yes. Hospice Family Care™ provides continuing contact and support for caregivers for at least thirteen months following the death of a loved one. Hospice Family Care™ also offers comprehensive adult bereavement services and support groups, as well as The Caring House, a childhood grief and bereavement center for children ages 3 through 18.