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Frequently Asked Questions About Hospice Care

When is the right time to ask about hospice?
Family Centered Hospice encourages individuals to learn about hospice and ask questions about what to expect from hospice services at any time, before they are needed. . Although end-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, it is best for family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern. This can greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice is needed. By having these discussions in advance, patients are not forced into uncomfortable situations. Instead, patients can make an educated decision that includes the advice and input of family members and loved ones.

How does hospice care begin?
Hospice care starts as soon as a formal request or a ‘referral’ is made by the patient’s doctor. A Family Centered Hospice representative will schedule a visit with the patient and family once the order is received from the physician. Hospice care is ready to begin once the patient and family agrees that this is the approach they wish to take. An admission nurse will complete the assessment and then develop the plan of care for ensuring the comfort of the patient.

Who will care for me as a hospice patient?
Every hospice patient has access to a hospice medical director, volunteer, registered nurse, social worker, home health aide, and chaplain (also known as the interdisciplinary team). For each patient and family, the interdisciplinary team writes a care plan with the patient/family that is used to make sure the patient and family receive the care they want and need from each member of the team. Home health aides, who provide personal care to the patient, will visit most frequently.

All visits, however, are based on the patient and family needs as described in the care plan and the condition of the patient during the course of illness. The frequency of volunteers and spiritual care is often dependent upon the family request.

Is hospice available after hours?
Hospice care is available ‘on-call’ after the main office has closed, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The patient or family simply calls the toll free number and will be connected to a nurse who will speak to the family about the situation at hand. Family Centered Hospice has nurses available to respond to a call for help within hours when necessary. Family also has chaplains and social workers on call..

Can I continue to involve my primary care physician in my care?
Hospice works closely with the patient’s primary care physician to create a plan of care that meets the unique needs of the patient. The patient can continue to see their primary care physician as needed.

How does hospice work to keep the patient comfortable?
Some patients may have pain and other serious symptoms as illness progresses. Hospice staff receives special training to care for all types of physical and emotional symptoms that cause pain, discomfort and distress. Because keeping the patient comfortable and pain-free is an important part of hospice care, many hospice programs have developed ways to measure how comfortable the patient is during the course of their stay in hospice. Hospice staff works with the patient’s physician to make sure that medication, therapies, and procedures are designed to achieve the goals outlined in the patient’s care plan. The care plan is reviewed frequently to make sure any changes and new goals are in the plan.

What role does the hospice volunteer serve?
Specially trained hospice volunteers are generally available to provide different types of support to patients and their loved ones including running errands, preparing light meals, staying with a patient to give family members a break, and lending emotional support and companionship to patients and family members.

Can I be cared for by hospice if I reside in a nursing facility or other type of long-term care facility?
Hospice services can be provided to a terminally ill person wherever they live. This means a patient living in a nursing facility or long-term care facility can receive specialized visits from hospice nurses, home health aides, chaplains, social workers, and volunteers, in addition to other care and services provided by the nursing facility. The hospice and the nursing home will have a written agreement in place in order for the hospice to serve residents of the facility.

What happens if I cannot stay at home due to my increasing care need and require a different place to stay during my final phase of life?
Family Centered Hospice has arrangements with freestanding hospice houses, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities to care for patients who cannot stay where they usually live. These patients may require a different place to live during this phase of their life when they need extra care. However, care in these settings is not covered under the Medicare or Medicaid Hospice Benefit. It is best to find out, well before hospice may be needed, if insurance or any other payer covers this type of care or if patients/families will be responsible for payment.

What if I change my mind about Hospice?
Patients can change their mind at any time about hospice care and can revoke the hospice benefit and return to receiving aggressive treatment if they desire.

Do state and federal reviewers inspect and evaluate hospices?
Yes. There are state licensure requirements that must be met by hospice programs in order for them to deliver care. In addition, hospices must comply with federal regulations in order to be approved for reimbursement under Medicare. Hospices must periodically undergo inspection to be sure they are meeting regulatory standards in order to maintain their license to operate and the certification that permits Medicare reimbursement.

How can I be sure that quality hospice care is provided?
Many hospices use tools to let them see how well they are doing in relation to quality hospice standards. In addition, most programs use family satisfaction surveys to get feedback on the performance of their programs. To help hospice programs in making sure they give quality care and service, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has developed recommended standards entitled ‘Standards of Practice for Hospice Programs’ as one way of ensuring quality.

For further information or to make a referral please call toll-free 1.866.320-3300