10 Facts About Hospice

Hospice care is considered the model for quality compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness. Hospice provides expert medical care, pain management and emotional and spiritual support tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. Whether you are a patient, family member or clinician who treats patients with terminal illnesses, having accurate information about hospice services can help you make an informed decision about whether hospice care is appropriate. Following are 10 facts you should know about hospice care:
  1. Hospice handles multiple diagnosis states. Hospice is for people with advanced principal diagnoses/illnesses, such as, but not limited to, circulatory/heart disease, stroke, lung disease, liver disease, chronic kidney disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis and AIDS. Whatever the age, culture, beliefs or diagnosis of patients or loved ones, Angels Care Hospice can help if the patient has a serious progressive illness.
  2. Hospice can occur anywhere. The majority of Hospice care is provided in the place the patient calls home. It may also be provided in freestanding hospice facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living, independent living communities and other long-term care facilities. Patients at home feel better, surrounded by the faces and things they know and love.
  3. Hospice is a choice. Once they are on hospice care, patients can leave or “revoke” their hospice status at any time for any reason. Patients can also return to hospice at any time, as long as they meet eligibility guidelines.
  4. Patients can continue with medications and treatments while on hospice. Hospice patients can continue treatments that relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. If you’re a patient with questions about specific medications or therapies, talk to the clinician who conducts your evaluation before going on hospice services. If you’re a clinician with questions about hospice care plans, call Angels Care Hospice for guidance.
  5. Hospice provides medications related to the patient’s diagnosis to control specific symptoms. In fact, hospice physicians prescribe the lowest effective dose of medications to alleviate symptoms, stabilize the patient and provide the most comfort. Morphine can control pain and shortness of breath, but not every patient needs it.
  6. Hospice care is usually provided by family caregivers, with support from the hospice team. When hospice is provided in a private home, licensed clinicians come to the home rather than have the patient go to a physician’s office. Family or friends take on the role of primary caregivers, supported by a professional hospice team that includes a nurse, hospice aide, social worker, physician, chaplain and others, as needed. The team makes regularly scheduled visits, and trains and educates family caregivers. For patients in an assisted living community or nursing home, the hospice team provides additional care that complements the care they are already receiving.
  7. There is no limit to the time a patient can be on hospice. Hospice is for patients who are expected to live six months or less. However, hospice can be extended if the patient remains appropriate. Several studies show that, in many cases, patients who receive hospice services live longer than hospice-appropriate patients who do not receive hospice.
  8. Hospice provides home medical equipment and supplies. Hospice provides equipment and supplies, such as shower chairs, hospital beds, incontinence supplies and more. Having free equipment and supplies readily available is convenient and can improve quality of life for the patient and caregivers.
  9. Hospice cares for the family. Angels Care Hospice addresses emotional and spiritual pain suffered by loved ones. In fact, bereavement support for the family continues for more than a year after the patient’s death.
  10. 99%+ of hospice patients do not have any out-of-pocket expenses. Medicare, Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) and most private insurance plans cover hospice 100%, including home visits, medications, supplies and equipment related to the terminal diagnosis. If a patient is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Original Medicare will still cover the cost of hospice care.

Content Source: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, “Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America,” 2018 Edition (REVISED 7-2-2019)