Please take a look at the frequently asked hospice questions and answers provided below. If you have further questions that are not listed here please feel free to get in touch with us directly using our contact form.
Q: The patient and/or family is unable to accept that he or she is dying. Are they appropriate for hospice?
A: Yes – Many hospice patients/families are not able to accept the impending death. The hospice team attempts to help the patient/family change the focus of their hopes and move closer to acceptance.
Q: Who makes the decision for a patient to enter hospice care?
A: It is always the decision of the patient to enter a hospice program. The patient’s family and doctors are involved in the decision, but ultimately the choice rests with the patient.
Q: When is the decision to enter hospice care made?
A: The decision to enter hospice care can be made at the time of the diagnoses of a terminal disease or later in the course of treatment. It can be difficult to accept death and even more difficult to let death come naturally. With this in mind, hospice centers welcome patients at any stage of illness or dying. Often, a patient will fight the disease until the very end and only enter hospice care at the end stages of life.
Q: What if the primary diagnosis is not cancer?
A: As long as the physician certified a limited life expectancy and the patient/family desires no further aggressive/curative treatment, the patient is eligible for hospice. Hospice Care of the Rockies has provided services to Alzheimer’s patients, COPD, CHF, ALS, MS, end-stage renal disease, etc.
Q: Will my doctor know about hospice?
A: The vast majority of physicians in practice today know about hospice care. If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness ask your physician about hospice care. If he or she does not know about hospice one of the many hospice organizations listed here can provide materials and information for you to give to your doctor. Remember that you are in charge of your care and if your doctor does want to do something that you feel is right; it is perfectly acceptable to seek another opinion.
Q: What if the patient is not homebound or does not require skilled nursing care?
A: As long as the indications for hospice care are met there are no requirements for level of care needs.
Q: Will hospice provide services if the patient is already receiving care at home?
A: Hospice Care of the Northwest is a full service hospice. We provide a team, which consists of Registered Nurses, Certified Nurse Assistants, Social Workers, Chaplains and Volunteers. The team works closely together following a jointly established plan of care designed to meet the physical, emotional, psychosocial and spiritual needs of the patient/family. The team will evaluate the unique needs of each patient and family and help arrange additional care as needed.
Q: What if the family feels they only need volunteer support?
A: A hospice nurse is still assigned as the primary RN. She/he must make the initial visit and coordinate the other hospice services. Should a nursing need arise, she/he is then available during the course of care.
Q: What if the patient has no one available to provide care in the home?
A: Hospice will work with the patient/family to find caregivers. Hospice does not pay for or provide around the clock caregivers directly. Hospice supplements the family; it does not attempt to take its place. Hospice care is available in some nursing homes.
Q: Is 24-hour care available to hospice patients at home?
A: Yes. Hospice team members are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to respond to patient needs. If there is a medical crisis, hospice nurses can provide continuous care until the symptoms subside.
Q: Can the family receive bereavement services if the deceased was not a hospice patient?
A: Absolutely. Bereavement services, which include professional and volunteer support, through individual and group contacts, are available to anyone who is grieving.
Q: What is the difference between home health care and hospice?
A: Hospice is a full, comprehensive system of care, which uses an interdisciplinary team approach. Visits by the professional staff (which may include RN, MSW, OT, PT) are made on an “as needed” basis. This conceivably could be as many as 1-3 nursing visits a day, 7 days a week, for as long as the patient lives! The hospice social worker visits are on an “as needed” basis with no restrictions as to frequency or duration. Home aide services are available, as are the chaplain visits and volunteer support. And of course, bereavement support is available for more than a year following a patient’s death. Hospice is the only health care system mandated by law to provide volunteers and bereavement services in addition to professional services.
In the care of Medicare/Medicaid patients, hospice is also required to provide all medications, supplies and durable medical equipment necessary to alleviate symptoms of the terminal illness.
Q: “Medicare Certified” – does that mean only Medicare eligible patients are served by hospice?
A: No – Hospice services are available for patients of all ages. Because hospice is managed care, many insurance companies have a hospice benefit or will negotiate to provide hospice services.
Q: What if we are not sure if hospice is appropriate?
A: Please call the office to discuss individual cases. In most instances, a hospice evaluation is appropriate and will be provided to help the patient and family, explore appropriate options for care. We believe all patients/families who are facing a life threatening illness have the right to be informed about their options for care; both current and in the future. To know, right from the beginning, that even when there is “nothing more to be done” they will not be abandoned. Hospice Care of the Rockies will be there when they need care.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us. A qualified member of our staff will be more than happy to assist you with any questions you may have.