There are a number of common misconceptions about hospice that have kept many terminally ill patients from receiving care that could have greatly improved the quality of their end-of-life experience.
The answers to the following frequently asked questions can help you gain a better understanding of this important community health care resource and how it can help you and your neighbors in time of need.
Hospice is a philosophy of care for those facing life-limiting illnesses as well as their families and caregivers. The focus is to help the patient experience peace, comfort and quality of life during their final months while offering support to their loved ones.
Hospice offers comfort care to patients of all ages who are coping with life-limiting conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, diabetes, emphysema, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS as well as cardiovascular, kidney and liver diseases.
Hospice care may begin when the patient chooses to discontinue curative treatment, typically when their prognosis is six months or less. An individual plan of care focused on comfort measures and quality of life is developed in cooperation with the patient's physician, the patient and their loved ones.
Most families say that they wish they had initiated hospice care sooner due to the positive impact on both the patient and family.
The hospice team can provide a comprehensive array of holistic medical, emotional and spiritual support services wherever a patient calls home, including private residences, assisted living or long-term care facilities, nursing homes and hospitals.
Patients who either do not have a caregiver available in the home or who require more complex treatment than the family caregiver can manage at home can receive care in an inpatient hospice facility such as the Gordon Hospice House.
The caregiving team is a group of professionals from many disciplines – including physicians, registered and licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, medical social workers, bereavement counselors, chaplains and volunteers – who are specially trained in end-of-life care.
Taking a holistic approach, the hospice care team works in close collaboration not only to manage symptoms and minimize pain but also to address the emotional and spiritual needs that are part of the end-of-life experience for the patient as well as their family.
Hospice care and palliative care share a similar focus: relieving the pain, symptoms and stress associated with serious illness.
However, hospice is end-of-life care for those who have a terminal illness with a limited prognosis, usually six months or less. The patient must have elected to cease curative treatment and to begin comfort care focused on managing symptoms and maximizing quality of life. The hospice care team includes RNs, CNAs, chaplains, volunteers and bereavement counselors that make routine visits to the patient and family.
By contrast, palliative care can be provided at any time, regardless of the patient's diagnosis or life expectancy, and can be administered while the patient continues curative and life-prolonging therapies. One of the important goals of palliative care is to improve symptom management and quality of life which can, in turn, lessen repeat hospital visits.
The palliative care team includes palliative physicians, nurse practitioners and medical social workers that consult with the patient as well as their family and primary care physician as needed. The team educates the patient and family on pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions and therapies that promote comfort and emotional well-being.
Patients who have Medicare are covered for hospice care. Others use their Medicaid hospice benefit or private insurance.
Payment for services not covered by insurance is based on the ability of the patient or family to pay. No one is denied our services because of an inability to pay. With community support, HPCIC is able to assist and provide the same quality hospice services to all in need.
While a physician's order is required to admit a patient to hospice care, anyone can make a referral, including a friend or family member.
If someone you know is living with a life-limiting illness and might benefit from our services, contact the HPCIC office nearest you and ask to speak with our intake specialist, who can work with you and the patient's doctor for certification into our program.