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Hospice FAQ

Common Questions about Hospice Care

What is hospice?
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.
What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?
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.
Who makes the decision about entering hospice and when should it be made?
By law, the decision belongs to the patient. Any time during a life-limiting illness can be an appropriate time 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.
What if a patient shows signs of recovery?
If the patient’s condition improves and the patient’s doctor agrees that the disease seems to be in remission, they can return to aggressive therapy or continue on with their daily life.
What does the hospice admission process involve?
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.
Is this 24-hour continuous care?
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.
Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
No. A hospice program can do nothing either to speed up or to slow down the dying process.
Does a patient need to be at home to receive services?
No. Our hospice services are available for patients at home, in nursing homes, retirement homes, adult family homes, hospice centers and hospitals.
Is hospice care covered by insurance?
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.
Who refers to hospice ?
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.
Do you provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
Hospice provides continuing contact and support for family and friends for at least a year following the death of a loved one. We also sponsor grief and bereavement groups.

Contact Us

MultiCare Home Health & Hospice
253-301-6400 or 888-516-4504
Fax: 253-301-6528

3901 S Fife St.
Tacoma, WA 98409

Mailing Address:
PO Box 5200
Tacoma, WA 98415-0200

For Referrals:

253-301-6500 or 888-516-4505