Hospice refers to a range of care services that focus on comfort rather than cure, and embraces patients, families and caregivers as patients reach the end of their life. Comfort care, from the hospice perspective, includes managing physical symptoms to maintain quality of life and manage pain, as well as meeting the emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their families. Our program emphasizes living life as fully and comfortably as possible.
Palliative care and hospice care have many similarities, and both share the goal of providing comfort and improving quality of life. However, hospice care is only available for those facing a life-threatening illness who choose to stop any life-prolonging treatment. Palliative care can be provided to patients at any stage of their illness or treatment.
By law, the decision belongs to the patient. Any time during a life-limiting illness can be appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including hospice, with the patient’s doctor. You do need a doctor's referral in order to receive hospice services.
The process begins a doctor's statement that the patient's life expectancy is six months or less and that the patient has made a decision to seek comfort care only. If the diagnosis is not cancer, the patient must meet Medicare/Medicaid criteria to have hospice services covered (most private insurance agencies use similar criteria). Finally, there must be a caregiver in place or there must be a plan to acquire one when necessary.
No. All care is intermittent, with the frequency of visits determined by you, your doctor and hospice staff. We can help provide referrals to services that offer this level of care, if you or your family needs help in this area.
Hospice care coverage is provided by Medicare, Medicaid and by most private health insurance policies. Medicare and/or Medicaid are the most frequent sources of payment. Both will pay for medication relating to the terminal diagnosis, equipment needed for comfort and safety (typically a hospital bed, bedside commode and wheelchair) and the services of the hospice team. To be sure of coverage, families should, of course, check with their health insurance provider.
Referral sources include doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, friends, neighbors and patients. While a doctors’s order is required to receive these services, no order is needed to obtain information about the service. Anyone can refer a potential patient.