What is Hospice Care?

Hospice Care, also known as end-of-life care, focuses on palliation of a terminally ill or seriously ill patient’s pain and symptom’s. Hospice care specializes in the care that is provided not on curing a person. Hospice Care focuses on palliation of a terminally ill or seriously ill patient. Palliative care is treatment that enhances comfort and improves the quality of an individual’s life as they are dying. The test of palliative care lies in the agreement between the patient, doctor, caregiver and the hospice team that the expected outcome is relief from the distressing symptoms, the easing pain and enhancing the quality of life. A patient’s needs must continue to be assessed and all treatment options explored and evaluated in the context of the patient’s values and symptoms. The patient’s choices and decisions regarding care are predominant and must be followed. Hospice care is usually provided to patients who have been given a 6 month or less life expectancy.

Who Provides Hospice Care?

There are usually a number of persons involved in caring out the care defined as “hospice”. Typically a family member will serve as the primary caregiver for their loved one. This is usually due to the decisions that go in to hospice care. Often times a family member is the person deemed “primary caregiver” as they will need to advise the others of the decisions/wishes of the terminally ill person. Members of a hospice staff will make regular visits to medically asses the patient and provide other services. Hospice staff usually will include persons such as, but not limited to, a family member, physician, hospice physician, nurses, home health aides, a social worker, therapist, and often other support personal like grief counselors or volunteers (as needed). Each member of a hospice team will oversee and ensure services such as:

• Pain management
• Emotional wellbeing
• Medication Administration
• Therapy
• Bereavement care for family and friends

An overall care plan will be built based on the individual and their particular illness.

Where Can You Receive Hospice Care?

Hospice care can be given in a hospital, skilled nursing facility, a hospice center or at the patient’s home and now, even Independent Living communities will allow hospice care in the apartment should the residents family not want them to move. Hospice Care is greatly defined by the Medicare system and other health insurance providers, which make hospice care available. Wherever you choose for a loved one to receive care, hospice is crucial as they will provide around-the-clock care, training of family members in patient care, help with practical matters associated with terminal illness, and support groups for the patients’ families.

How to Pay for Hospice Care?

There are several different options to pay for hospice care. You can pay for hospice care using Medicare, private health insurance and Medicaid (in states that qualify). The patient will have to meet eligibility criteria before the insurance will pay for hospice care. Private insurance and veterans benefits may also cover hospice care depending on the circumstances. Some hospice programs also offer services on a sliding fee scale basis for patients with limited income.

Seeking information on Hospice Care is not always easy. End-of-life care is not a comfortable topic for most people to discuss, but it is best for the patient and their families to be prepared as you possibly can. Planning ahead can greatly reduce stress and help you to make well educated decisions. Typically, hospice care will begin when requested by; referral is given from, the patient’s primary doctor. If you believe hospice is going to be a need we encourage you to begin asking questions, talking with family and searching for care now.