Facts & Myths

Hospice is NOT a place.

  • Hospice is a program not a place.
  • Hospice care usually takes place in the comfort of an individual’s home, but can be provided in any environment in which a person lives, including a nursing home, assisted living facility, or residential care facility.
  • It provides end-of-life physical, emotional and spiritual care to individuals who have been determined to have a terminal illness.
  • Inpatient hospice is for short-term critical care when the patient’s symptoms can no longer be reasonably treated in another setting.
  • Treatments such as pain control, medication adjustment, observation, stabilizing treatment and symptom control can be more easily provided in an inpatient facility.

All hospice programs are NOT the same.

  • It’s wise to be a good consumer and research your options.
  • The range of support services and programs may vary from state to state depending on state laws and regulations.
  • All hospices have core services that they must provide, those services are the four levels of care that must be available:
    • Routine Home Care
    • Respite Care
    • Continuous Care
    • Inpatient Care
  • All hospices must provide core staff:
    • Physician
    • Nurses
    • Nurse aides
    • Social workers
    • Chaplain
    • and Volunteers
  • The difference between hospices is staff experience, longevity of staff, length of time in operation, and the administration of the hospice in meeting the state and federal guidelines that are set forth for hospices to abide by.
  • One medium to use when searching for a hospice is the Department of Aging and Disability or DADS. They provide a Website that displays the survey results from the federal and state surveys required of hospices. The surveys provide information on how well the hospice is performing.
  • When they are not performing well, that information is also listed on this Website in the form of citations. Visit www.facilityquality.dads.state.tx.us for further details, hospices are listed under home healths.

Hospice does NOT provide 24-hour care.

  • The hospice team — which includes nurses, social workers, home-health aides, volunteers, chaplains and bereavement counselors — visits patients intermittently and is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week for support and care.
  • Hospice does not provide sitters.
  • As a part of their core services, hospices should provide “continuous care,” but the hospice patients must meet certain criteria outlined by Medicare, Medicaid and insurance providers.
  • Continuous Home Care is provided during a period of crisis to maintain the individual in the home setting.
  • It is not intended to replace the care provided by the caregiver for long periods of time.
  • Volunteers are sometimes available to sit with the patient for short periods of time to give the caregiver a break.

Hospice is NOT only for cancer patients.

Hospice can be utilized with any end-stage organ disease or with end-stage neurological diseases such as:

  • Heart Disease
  • Lung Disease
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Emphysema
  • Any illness for which there is no cure

Do patients only receive hospice care for a limited amount of time?

  • The Medicare benefit, and most private insurance, pays for hospice care as long as the patient continues to meet the necessary criteria.
  • Patients may come on and off hospice care and re-enroll in hospice care as needed.

A patient needs Medicare or Medicaid to afford hospice services?

  • Insurance coverage for hospice is available through Medicare and through Medicaid in 44 states and the District of Columbia, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed-care organizations include hospice care as a benefit.
  • In addition, through community contributions, memorial donations, and foundation gifts, many hospices are able to provide patients who lack sufficient payment with free services.
  • Other programs charge patients in accordance with their ability to pay.

A physician does NOT decide whether a patient should receive hospice care and which agency should provide that care.

  • The role of the physician is to recommend care, whether hospice or traditional curative care.
  • It is the patient’s right, or in some cases the right of the person who holds power of attorney, and decision to determine when hospice is appropriate and which program suits his or her needs.
  • Before entering a hospice, however, a physician must certify that a patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and has a life expectancy of six months or less.