Truths About Hospice

What is hospice and palliative care?

Reality: Most often, hospice care is given in a patient’s home. However, we can provide hospice care in any environment in which a person lives, including residential care facilities, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities.

Myth: All hospice programs are the same.

Reality: All licensed hospice care providers must offer certain services, but the range of support in each program is different. A lot of the nation’s hospice care providers hire contract nurses. We don’t. Our staff has experience caring for hospice patients.

Myth: Hospice is only for cancer patients.

Reality: Our patients who receive hospice care suffer from various illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, congestive heart failure, chronic lung disease, or other conditions.

Myth: Hospice is just for the patient.

Reality: Hospice focuses on providing comfort, emotional support, dignity, and quality of life to not only patients, but their caregivers and family members as well.

Myth: A patient needs Medicare or Medicaid to afford hospice services.

Reality: Most HMOs, private insurance plans, and other managed care organizations offer cost coverage for hospice care.

Myth: A physician is the one who makes the decision that a patient needs hospice care and which agency should administer that care.

Reality: Physicians can recommend care, but those decisions ultimately are that of the patient. In some cases, it is the right of the person who holds power of attorney over the patient.

Myth: Patients can't return to traditional medical treatment once starting hospice care.

Reality: Patients can stop hospice care at any time. If a patient’s condition improves, he or she can return to curative measures, if he or she wishes to do so. If a patient wants to continue hospice care, most insurance organizations allow readmission.

Myth: Hospice provides 24-hour care.

Reality: The hospice team, CNA, nurse practitioners, doctors, nurses, chaplains and social workers) visit patients on a regularly scheduled basis. However, you can reach our staff all day, every day, for support and care.

Myth: Hospice signifies that the patient will soon die.

Reality: Do not give up hope just because you have started to receive hospice care. The sooner you start hospice care, the more opportunity there is to stabilize your medical condition and prolong a quality life.

Myth: Patients' hospice care has a time limit.

Reality: Most companies provide payments for hospice as long as a doctor deems it necessary and the patient meets the criteria. Patients may also discontinue hospice care and re-enroll as needed.

Myth: After six months, patients are no longer eligible for Medicare coverage of hospice.

Reality: Medicare requires hospice beneficiaries to have a life expectancy of six months or fewer. However, if the patient does live through the first six months of care, he or she can continue receiving hospice care, as long as the physician recertifies that the patient is suffering from a terminal illness. Medicare, Medicaid, and other commercial and private insurances cover hospice services for any period of time, provided the patient meets the criteria.

Myth: Once a patient chooses to enroll in hospice care, he or she no longer can receive treatment from the primary care physician.

Reality: Hospice values the relationship between patients and their physician. Hospice coordinates with the patient’s doctor and considers their relationship a priority.

Myth: To receive hospice care, a patient must be bedridden.

Reality: Hospice care is available to any patient dealing with an advanced, serious illness, regardless of the patient’s physical status.
Many hospice patients still lead productive and rewarding lives. Patients, their families and physician can work together to choose when to start hospice care.

Myth: Hospice means giving up hope.

Reality: Sometimes, patients and their family members focus on the loss of a life rather than the possibilities during time that remains. Hospice helps patients realize all they can do with their time left.