In order to properly prepare your loved one and family for hospice, please review the following frequently asked questions.
Frequently asked questions
When should a decision about electing the hospice benefit be made?
At any time during a life-limiting illness, it’s appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including hospice. When possible, hospice should be presented early in the disease progression to provide the patient to fully benefit from all that they are entitled to under hospice care. Hospice may be suggested by a physician who determines that under normal disease progression the patient has six months or less life expectancy. In the same manner, if a patient/family feels that they would benefit from the support of a hospice program, they should be comfortable in approaching the subject with their healthcare provider as a physician’s order is needed to begin care.
May I choose who provides my hospice care?
Absolutely! Patients have the right to choose! It is the law. It is highly recommended that you interview hospices to determine which program meets your needs. Despite all hospices falling under Medicare regulations, the operational practices of a hospice are what make the difference. A patient focused hospice is one that is open to meeting with you to educate and answer questions. Signing consents should not be the main focus.
Why choose Advanced Hospice?
The Advanced Team prides itself on meeting the medical needs of community members at various stages of life. Advanced Hospice is part of the Advanced Healthcare continuum. We take the privilege of caring for our patients very seriously. We are committed to providing compassionate, ethical care, while striving for optimal comfort in meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our patients. We embrace the understanding that dying is a natural part of living and we accept the responsibility to uphold the dignity of life in accordance with our patients’ values and wishes along their end-of-life journey.
Who determines if hospice is appopriate?
Hospice referrals are typically generated by a patient’s physician, a discharge planner in the hospital, or a social worker within a facility setting. Upon review of a patient’s chart and a physical assessment, a hospice nurse can determine if the patient meets the hospice criteria for their diagnosis.
Must hospice patients be homebound if they are recieving Hospice Care?
Hospice patients need not be homebound. Our patients are encouraged to live each day to the fullest and to participate in all activities of their daily life while they can safely do so.
Who pays for Hospice Care?
Hospice services are covered by insurance – Medicare, Medicaid and private insurances. The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers the full scope of medical and support services. We work closely with all insurance companies and “out of network” benefits are explored upon request.
What is the difference between Palliative Care and Hospice Care?
Palliative care is known as comfort care – it’s what the modern hospice movement was founded upon. In today’s world, people are generally referred to palliative care if they are still pursuing treatment of their disease or are seeking comfort measures for a chronic illness.
It’s important to fully comprehend that hospice is not about giving up, but rather changing the approach to how one wishes to live each day. Hospice is for people who have chosen to forego aggressive treatment or no longer have the option for treatment, and therefore choose to pursue comfort measures of their disease. Hospice Care offers much more than palliative care such as:
- a dedicated team of people – nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers/counselors, pastoral care and volunteers
- payment of medications related to their diagnosis
- durable medical equipment to enhance their mobility and quality of living
- soft good supplies
- bereavement support for family members
Can a person receive Hospice Care beyond six months?
Hospice care is broken down into what is referred to as benefit periods. There are two 90-day periods followed by unlimited 60-day periods. The significance of the benefit periods is to evaluate the appropriateness of hospice care. If a patient survives beyond 6 months, they can still receive hospice care provided the hospice team, under the direction of a physician, re-certifies that the patient continues to meet the hospice criteria for their disease.
Is hospice in the home 24 hrs/day?
The role of the hospice team is to educate and provide support. Hospice teams are not in the home around the clock, but rather they follow a care plan based on the patient’s needs which include regularly scheduled visits. A patient’s family and/or friends serve as the main “unit of care” to the patient. In addition, as the patient’s status changes with disease progression, the care plan changes as well.
There are times in the early weeks of care when patients who are of sound mind and physically mobile may live independently. However, for those who live alone, it is essential to have a caregiving plan in place for when the patient’s abilities change, and safety becomes an issue.
Must a person remain on hospice after electing the hospice benefit?
The patient is always at the head of the team. Patients who elect their hospice benefit are embracing the philosophy of receiving comfort care over curative measures. Should a patient choose to return to treatment, they can simply revoke their hospice benefit.
It is the responsibility of the hospice team to determine the appropriateness of hospice. There are times that patients become stronger due to hospice intervention. Should a patient no longer meet the hospice criteria, the patient will be discharged from service and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. If the discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private insurance will allow additional coverage for this purpose.