Hospice care is commonly misunderstood, but many patients and their families say they wish they had chosen hospice sooner in order to get the maximum benefit from the specialized services offered. While no one wants to think about this care until it is needed, it’s important to learn what hospice really is and how it can help before the time when you need it. 

When a person living with a chronic, life-limiting illness or disease does not have the quality of life they and their family hoped for, the focus may shift toward increasing it by emphasizing comfort instead of recovery.

This is where hospice may be able to help. When medical treatment cannot provide a cure, hospice is a realistic and positive choice because it can support both the patient and the family for weeks and months, not just the final days. 

16Nov Hospice

What Is Hospice Care? 

People who approach the end of life are often less afraid of death than they are of what may come during the dying process. Hospice care addressees this issue by offering a personalized plan of care based on each individual’s progress and needs. 

Care is coordinated by the primary physician along with the hospice team, which is made up of family, nurses, social workers, aides, volunteers, physicians, spiritual care advisors and others. 

This specialized treatment focuses on pain and symptom management and provides critical help and support to both the patient and family to help the patient to: 

  • Maintain independence 
  • Take control of his/her illness or disease
  • Complete important tasks
  • Organize personal affairs
  • Complete spiritual services 
  • Have a comfortable, dignified and peaceful passing

As more people understand what hospice is, more people choose to receive it. In fact, the amount of patients receiving hospice care has steadily increased since 2010, from 1.38 million to 1.66 million but the end of 2015.

Who Can Benefit from Hospice Care?

Hospice care is available for eligible people living with an end-stage illness or disease, with a prognosis of six months or less, although some may live longer. 

The care team for hospice continues to evaluate eligibility for ongoing hospice care, and as long as the person meets the guidelines, hospice can continue to provide care. Also, since hospice is the choice of a patient, it can be discontinued by the patient at any time, for any reason.

Common conditions patients receive hospice care for are:  

  • Cancer
  • Heart, lung or kidney disease
  • Dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases 

What You Can Expect from Hospice Care

Hospice care can be provided at home or in a comfortable home-like environment such as a nursing center or assisted living facility. Patients and families receive: 

  • Coordination between a patient’s primary physician and the hospice Medical Director who oversees the plan of care
  • Nurses available around the clock, ever day of the year
  • Social workers and spiritual care coordinators to care for the emotional and spiritual needs of both patient and family 
  • Medications, medical supplies and equipment related to patient’s diagnoses
  • Ongoing grief counseling and bereavement support for 13 months following the loss of a loved one 
  • Coverage for 100 percent of these services by Medicare and most Medicaid or private insurances with little to no costs to patient and family if it is determined the patient is eligible for this level of care    

How Is Hospice Paid For? 

Medicare pays 100% of the cost of hospice care for those who qualify. Medicaid and many private insurance plans will also cover hospice care; however, benefits vary per policy and verification of benefits is required. People will be granted hospice regardless of their ability to pay.

Choosing hospice is one of the most difficult decisions anyone can make. At such an important time, it’s comforting to know that you have people close by who can help you, support you and lift some of the emotional weight that can come with caring for a loved one. 

If you have healthcare questions or want to learn more about hospice care, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak to one of our Registered Nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

By Blair Klayko