What is Hospice? – Myths vs Realities
Learn the Truth…
There are many negative misconceptions and connotations that can make the concept of hospice a scary choice and a somewhat difficult subject to discuss. You may have heard that hospice means “giving up” or that there is “no hope.” In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Choosing hospice is a positive approach to staying in control of your life.
Hospice embraces a united team philosophy in order to provide comfort, care and support to terminally ill patients and their families. Our program of care is medically directed and our interdisciplinary team of professional care givers focus on delivering medical, spiritual, emotional, psychosocial, volunteer and bereavement support.
Here are the FACTS about hospice:
Myth: Hospice is a place.
Reality: Hospice isn’t a place and patients don’t “go into hospice.” We provide care and support wherever our patients consider their home to be. Our patients are cared for in their own homes, in senior living communities, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities as well as residential board and care housing.
Myth: Choosing hospice means giving up hope.
Reality: There is always HOPE in HOsPicE – it’s even in the word! Choosing hospice care gives you an opportunity to ensure you control your life while you face this challenging time. Having comfort and care while managing pain allows patients and their families to spend the remaining time together in peace and dignity. Hospice is not about giving up, but rather about making more meaningful moments happen.
Myth: You should wait to sign with hospice until the last weeks of a terminal illness.
Reality: Just the opposite is true. When a referral to hospice is made early, patients can begin to experience its many benefits. Research shows that hospice patients actually live longer and with better quality of life than those who did not receive hospice care.
Myth: Patients must be bedridden to qualify for hospice.
Reality: To qualify for hospice, patients must meet certain medical guidelines depending on their particular diagnosis. As long as it is appropriate at the time of care, we encourage patients to be as physically independent for as long as possible.
Myth: You must give up your personal doctor in hospice.
Reality: You can chose to have your personal doctor be a part of the hospice team. While our hospice physicians have extensive experience in end-of-life care, they are happy to work closely with a patient’s personal doctor to ensure that the best care can be provided.
Myth: Hospice is only for cancer patients or the elderly.
Reality: We proudly serve patients of all ages who have a variety of life-limiting diseases or conditions. These diagnoses include but are not limited to:
- Alzheimer’s / Advanced Dementia
- Heart Disease / CHF
- HIV / AIDS
- Liver Disease
- Neurologic Diseases incl. Parkinson’s, ALS or MS
- Pulmonary Diseases / COPD
- Renal Disease
- Stroke / Coma
Myth: Hospice is expensive.
Reality: Any individual that is eligible for standard Medicare (Part A) receives hospice benefits. Hospice is paid for by the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Medicaid and private insurance. Since most private insurance coverage varies, it’s best to check with your carrier to verify your level of coverage for these services. Find out more about hospice benefits and costs. [anchor/link to “Who pays for hospice?” section.]
Myth: Patient’s family are discouraged from participating in hospice.
Reality: Families are highly encouraged to participate in the patient’s hospice plan of care. As an important component of the interdisciplinary team, your family members can help in whatever manner they feel comfortable. By participating in the end-of-life
Myth: Hospice makes death come sooner.
Reality: This is one of the biggest misconceptions about hospice. Hospice neither prolongs life or speeds up death. Our goal is to provide the best care we can for the patient so that they can live out their remaining days in comfort, dignity and peace. The patient’s terminal diagnosis is allowed to progress to its natural conclusion while managing pain and discomfort associated with their disease.
Myth: Hospice pushes religion.
Reality: At its core, hospice is about giving the patient control over their remaining time. Interdisciplinary teams include a chaplain and other spiritual counselors from all faiths or no faith at all, to provide non-judgmental spiritual support to patients and their families. Hospice is there to listen, offer counseling when requested or just lend a friendly shoulder to lean when times get tough.
Myth: Hospice is a last resort for treating a patient’s disease.
Reality: When a patient’s prognosis for advanced or serious illness is deemed terminal and curative treatments are no longer an option, hospice turns the focus of care from “Cure” to “Comfort.” The hospice team works in tandem with the patient and their family implement a plan of care that will manage pain, reduce anxiety as well as provide emotional, spiritual, educational and psychosocial support.
Myth: Hospice only treats you for six months.
Reality: Generally, hospice is appropriate for patients who are in the last six months of their life. However, it’s important to understand that hospice provides services as needed as long as the eligibility criteria remains valid. Medicare coverage provides for a total of 210 days but if the patient continues to require hospice services and their eligible medical status continues to decline an additional benefit period of unlimited days is available.
Myth: Only a doctor can refer a patient to hospice.
Reality: Actually, anyone including a family member, caregiver, friend or healthcare provider can refer a patient, including the patient themselves. Once the referral is made, Reliable Hospice will contact the physician to determine if the patient is medically appropriate and if so, will secure a doctor’s order for hospice. There is no need to do more. We’ll take care of the paperwork and getting the plan of care set-up and the patient comfortable.
Do you have more questions regarding Hospice and what it covers? Not sure whether hospice is appropriate for you or your loved one? We’re here to answer any of your questions and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
How Does Hospice Work?
Delivering Medical, Emotional and Spiritual care when you need it the most
Once you’ve made the choice to shift away from a “cure” to “comfort,” hospice is there to embrace you or your loved one with compassionate care. While the majority of hospice patients receive care in their homes, we also take care of our patients in a variety of locations including senior living communities, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities as well as residential board and care housing.
Once a referral is made on behalf of the patient, Reliable Hospice will be in contact with the patient’s doctor to obtain an order for hospice. Receiving this Dr.’s order on record enables the patient to utilize the hospice benefit from Medicare, Medi-cal or their own private insurance.
In most cases, a family member or close friend serves as the primary caregiver and can assist the patient make important decisions regarding their care and end-of-life wishes. Once admitted into Reliable Hospice’s services, members of our interdisciplinary team develop a customized plan of care (POC) to address specific needs for pain management and symptom control. The POC also specifically outlines the extent of our care, including medications, medical visits, psychosocial support, spiritual support and volunteer services.
Members of the hospice team make regular visits and continually assess our patient’s health, pain level and symptoms to adjust the plan and ensure their comfort. Our hospice staff is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as needed.
Reliable Hospice Interdisciplinary team work together with the patient and family.
When is the Right Time for Hospice?
Making the decision to benefit from hospice is one that isn’t taken lightly. We encourage you to talk openly with the personal physician to discuss the patient’s history, current physical symptoms and life expectancy. Hospice coverage is intended for individuals that have been diagnosed with a life-ending illness and where a “cure” is no longer the primary focus.
Generally, hospice is appropriate for patients in the last six months of their life. However, it’s important to understand that hospice provides services as needed as long as the eligibility criteria remains valid and the patient continues to decline.
Look for signs that the patient could meet the medical guidelines for hospice including:
- Decline in health in spite of curative medical therapies
- Progressive weight loss
- Decline in the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs)
- Walking – or otherwise getting around the home or outside. Also known as “ambulating”
- Feeding – as in being able to get food from a plate into one’s mouth
- Dressing and grooming – selecting clothes, putting them on, and managing their personal appearance
- Toileting – getting to and from toilet, using it appropriately and cleaning oneself
- Bathing – washing face and body in the bath or shower
- Transferring – being able to move from bed to chair, or to a wheelchair. Can also be the ability to stand up from a bed or chair in order to grab walker or other assistive device.
- Increased weakness and/or fatigue
- Withdrawal, confusion or bedbound
- Increased or uncontrolled pain
- Increased skin problems
- Increased hospitalizations or ER visits
- Recurring Infections: Pneumonia, UTI or Upper respiratory
If you have any questions on whether hospice is appropriate for you or your loved one, feel free to call us at (844) 395-4694. We’re here to help you!
Who Pays for Hospice?
At a time when the emotional challenges of a terminal diagnosis can be overwhelming, the last thing you need to worry about are financial issues. Reliable Hospice understands this and is here to answer any questions you have about your individual circumstance.
The hospice benefit for patients is one of the most generous healthcare programs ever designed under the Medicare system. In most cases, medical supplies, medical equipment and medications that are deemed necessary by the physician for the treatment of the terminal condition are provided at No Cost to the patient or their family.
In addition to Medicare, Medi-Cal and most private insurance plans have some degree of hospice benefit coverage. Since most private insurance varies, it’s always best to contact your carrier to verify your level of coverage for these services.
Under certain circumstances, inpatient, continuous care (24/7) and respite care for caregivers are also available. Since each individual case is unique, we encourage you to contact a representative from Reliable Hospice who will be happy to explain what is included in the individual plan of care for you or your loved one.
What Services Does Medicare Cover?
In most cases, services include:
Hospice Interdisciplinary Team
Your plan of care will include visits and support from a team of professions that include: an attending Physician, Medical Director, Registered Nurse, certified home health aid (CHHAs), Social Worker, Chaplain and various Volunteers.
24 Hour Continuous Care
When medically necessary, Reliable Hospice provides a higher level (24 hour) of continuous care by hospice staff for acute symptom management in the patient’s residence so hospitalization can be avoided.
Reliable Hospice creates every Plan of Care (POC) to meet the unique needs of each hospice patient. Daily, weekly or monthly visits by interdisciplinary team members are scheduled depending on the need to provide comfort, control pain and manage other symptoms.
Home Medical Equipment & Supplies
Hospice covers 100% for supplies and equipment that are deemed necessary by the physician for the treatment of the hospice condition.
Medicare covers 100% of the cost for prescribed medications directly related to the hospice diagnosis.
General Inpatient Care (GIP)
This higher level of care focuses on patient’s symptoms, extreme discomfort and acute symptom management in a skilled nursing home setting. Our hospice team works in conjunction with the facility’s staff to provide this
Taking care of a hospice patient can be overwhelming for a primary caregiver. Reliable Hospice can provide a one-time brief “respite” (limited to five consecutive days) for the primary caregiver by arranging for the patient’s care in an institutional setting without having to meet “GIP” pain and symptom management criteria.
What to Expect From Your Hospice Team
Reliable Hospice is available to our patients, their family and caregivers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our hospice professionals are dedicated to providing care and support to help our patients live life as comfortably and meaningfully as possible. We are here to guide you through a situation that may have you and your loved ones feeling powerless. Our goal is to ease the emotional burdens of the patients’ families as they experience the end of life’s journey.
Your Reliable Hospice Team will include:
- Hospice Physicians – With years of experience in hospice care, our doctors work in conjunction with your attending physician and the hospice team to assess, direct and approve the plan of care.
- Registered Nurses/Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) – Reliable’s nurses and LVNs manage the coordination of medical services to ensure a comprehensive approach to pain and symptom management.
- Home Health Aides – You won’t find more attentive and compassionate individuals to help with the personal care (such as bathing, grooming and feeding) of our patients.
- Social Workers – Providing emotional support to our patient and families, Reliable’s team of dedicated social workers can assist you with the financial and community resources you’ll need to navigate end-of-life decisions.
- Chaplain/Spiritual Care Providers – Our caring pastor provides spiritual support to patients and family members. He is available to help coordinate services with community clergy members, to listen or to lend a shoulder to lean on.
- Hospice Volunteers – Trained volunteers are available for a variety of volunteer services for patients, families and caregivers.
- Bereavement Support Services – Grief support is offered throughout your care as well as bereavement services to loved ones and friends as needed.
Reliable Hospice’s Circle of Care
The Hospice Circle of Care depicts the holistic continuum of care rendered by Reliable Hospice’s professionals and trained volunteers working together as a team to assess and meet the patient’s and families’ unique needs as the end of life draws near.