10 Things You Should Know about Hospice Care - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on April 01, 2013

10 Things You Should Know about Hospice Care

When you hear the words “hospice care,” what first pops into mind?

Many people perceive hospice as nothing more than a last resort for those who are terminally ill.

In reality, hospice care is much more than a place where people go for the remainder of their days. It is a service that allows patients to live a life that is as enjoyable as possible while controlling pain and managing symptoms. Hospice was created not to expedite the onset of death, but rather to provide an opportunity for patients seeking to improve their quality of life.

In order to do so, hospice staff work with families and loved ones to provide an extensive support system to assist the person in need. If you’re ever in a situation where the decision of whether or not to receive hospice care is in question, here are 10 things you should know:

1. The requirement to qualify for hospice care is simple. If a doctor predicts that a patient will die from a disease within 6 months if it were to naturally run its course, that patient can receive hospice care—no matter what the illness might be. From cancer to heart failure to dementia, anyone can receive this specialized care if their life expectancy is short.

2. Hospice care doesn’t mean that you’re ‘giving up.’ Hospice care gives patients the opportunity to decide where they want to spend their final days, as well as the chance to be surrounded by family and a strong support system. Choosing to receive hospice care means that you’ll be set up to live your life as comfortably as possible.

3. You have the option to choose where you receive care, whether it’s at home or in a local medical center, such as a hospital, nursing home or private hospice center.

4. Hospice care includes more than just a nurse. You and loved ones have access to a variety of other professionals, including doctors, social workers, counselors, clergy, therapists, aides, etc.

5. Hospice offers a variety of services for patients and close friends, such as family meetings, spiritual care, and bereavement support to assist with the mourning process after losing a loved one. Frequent meetings with family members are helpful in that they provide updates on the patient’s condition and create an opportunity for anyone to share their feelings about the situation. Hospices also provide respite care (inpatient services) for families who are unable to provide constant care for a brief period of time. Some families will find value in going on vacation or simply taking much-needed time away from their daily responsibilities of being a primary caretaker.

6. Hospice care doesn’t provide a 24/7 health aid. While hospice care services are constant, at-home health aides are generally provided part-time. A patient receiving hospice services requires constant care, so you’ll want to designate a family member or hire an aide to be the primary caregiver.

7. You don’t have to give up treatments if you don’t want to. However, you will have to talk with the specific hospice provider to determine if they’re able to administer required treatments, such as dialysis or blood transfusions, which are generally not offered. As part of the commitment to relieving symptoms and pain caused by illness, medication will be provided in order to do so.

8. Hospice care is relatively inexpensive and is covered entirely by most insurance plans. Services provided by hospice programs usually cost less than hospitals and nursing homes due to the fact that less-expensive technology is used and family provides most of the at-home care. Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurances cover this type of care 100 percent. If a patient has to pay out of pocket and cannot afford to do so, many hospice programs will work with the patient and family to make it affordable.

9. Your condition can improve while in hospice care. Some patients have even been known to get better to the point where care is no longer provided.

10. Hospice provides a unique coordination of care. There is always someone on call to help you if a problem were to arise. It’s a difficult time, and hospices ensure that neither the patient nor the caretakers are alone or unsupported.

Related Locations

eNewsletter Signup

Our eNewsletters from Crozer-Keystone Health System help keep you up-to-date on your health and well being. View recent editions or sign up to receive our free eNewsletters.