Hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team that may consist of a physician, nurse, hospice aide, social worker, chaplain, and hospice volunteer.
Anyone can refer a friend or family member to hospice. Often physicians refer their patients, but it’s not a requirement. If you would like to refer a patient, you can contact us directly. Our staff can help answer questions, come to the home to meet the patient, and collaborate with the patient’s own physician.
Hospice care is for anyone experiencing a terminal illness. It is not just for the elderly. Hospice care may be appropriate when treatment is no longer effective, the physician has determined the life expectancy of the patient is six months or less, and the patient and their family have decided to focus on providing comfort and not a cure.
Most hospice patients receive care in their own home or the home of a loved one. However, care can be provided anywhere a patient may call “home,” such as in a long-term care facility, assisted living facility, hospital, or nursing home. Hospice is not a place, but instead, a type of care.
When a patient and their family decides they no longer want to seek a cure for their illness, and the physician determines the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less, it may be time for hospice care. Hospice care is comfort care. Our goal is to provide relief from pain so the patient can experience the best quality of life possible, and their loved ones can get the most out of their remaining time together.
Hospice provides comprehensive care for those with a terminal illness who are at the end of their life. Hospice care seeks to manage symptoms in order to comfort the patient, rather than to cure the illness, and provides support to their family and loved ones.
The patient and family should feel free to discuss care at any time with their physician, other healthcare professionals, or friends. While most referrals come from physicians, other healthcare professionals or even family members can refer a patient to hospice.
If the patient’s condition improves, he or she can be discharged (we call it “graduating”) from hospice. Approximately 10% of all hospice patients graduate from hospice care. The clinical staff works with the whole care team, including the patient and family, to plan for hospice discharge. If the patient should later need to return to hospice care, most insurance companies will allow hospice care to be restarted.
Throughout a patient’s hospice stay, they may have a need for different types of care. Medicare defines 4 distinct levels of care:
- Routine Home Care: Patients are seen wherever they call home, whether it’s an independent or assisted living facility, or a family member’s home. 90% of hospice care is routine home care.
- Continuous Home Care: Hospice can place a clinician in the home for up to 24 hours per day in cases where the patient requires frequent intervention. Continuous care will be reevaluated every 24 hours.
- General Inpatient Care: If the patient’s symptoms require more intense attention that cannot be managed at home, the patient can be transferred to a 24-hour facility. This is typically short-term.
- Respite care: A patient may be temporarily admitted to a 24-hour care facility for up to 5 nights when the family or caregiver cannot be available. Respite care is meant to be part of a caregiver support program for planned or emergency situations.
Hospice care is covered 100% under the Medicare benefit. Coverage includes visits from health care professionals, supplies, medications, and equipment related to the terminal illness. Most private insurances cover hospice services in a similar way. Our admission team will assist with determining specific coverage.
When a patient is ready to receive hospice care and their physician certifies the patient is eligible, a hospice representative will contact the patient to schedule an appointment to meet. A nurse will evaluate the patient, answer any questions the patient and family may have, and create a care plan.