Individuals and their families benefit most when they have more time with a hospice than just a few days or weeks. This supportive service, during a most challenging time, is based on trust and relationship building that can best occur over months of care, rather than just the last few days.
As a hospice patient you get to choose who you want to be your attending physician as part of your hospice team. That doctor will consult with the Hospice Medical Director to provide you the best care.
Some hospices have inpatient units where care may be provided, but in most cases care is offered in the patient’s own home, the home of a family caregiver, an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. Hospice care comes to wherever the patient resides.
Hospice care is for patients with any health condition that, as determined by 2 doctors, is likely to have a prognosis of six-months or less. Some of the health conditions include heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, Alzheimer’s disease and many others.
Recent studies have shown that patients who choose hospice care actually live longer than those who pursued curative, intensive medical interventions. This may be due to the additional support and allowing for the natural dying process that hospice can provide.
Hospice is covered by the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Medicaid and many private insurance companies. Contact your insurance provider to obtain specific information about your coverage.
Pain control is only one important part of effective symptom management that is provided by hospice. Hospice care is a multi-disciplined approach that includes the social, emotional and spiritual aspects of the whole person. Bereavement support for over a year following the loss is also a crucial, supportive component of hospice care for the family.
There is no 6 month limit to hospice services. Patients must be re-assessed for eligibility at regular intervals in order to meet ongoing coverage criteria, but there is no limit on the amount of time a patient can be on the hospice benefit.
Hospice care is a type of Palliative care that is focused on comfort and no longer seeks curative measures. No one is giving up! In fact some patients improve and no longer require hospice services. They may choose hospice again if the need arises.
You are free to discontinue hospice at any time. Most patients and their families are relieved to know that they are in control of their own care and can get the support of hospice when they need it.