FAQs

What is hospice?

Hospice is a way to care for people who are terminally ill by focusing on pain relief and symptom management, as well as emotional and spiritual end-of-life issues, instead of trying to cure the disease.

Who is on the hospice team?

They may include a physician, registered nurse, hospice aide, social worker, chaplain, bereavement services manager, volunteer and other healthcare professionals.

Where do patients receive hospice services?

Hospice services are typically brought to wherever the patient calls home—a private residence, assisted living community or nursing home. Patients can also receive hospice services while in the hospital, or in an inpatient hospice unit.

Does choosing a hospice mean giving up on my loved one?

No. When treatment options for a disease have been exhausted or no longer work, hospice provides a way for people to live in comfort, peace and dignity without curative care. Hospice isn’t about giving up, but about improving the quality of the patient’s life by being free of pain, surrounded by family and in the comfort of home.

Are there signs that a patient might be ready for hospice services?

Patients should consider hospice services when medical treatments can no longer cure their disease and/or symptom burden outweighs the benefits of treatment. Hospice services can begin when a doctor decides the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less.

How often does the hospice nurse or doctor visit?

The hospice nurse creates a plan of care with the patient’s and family’s input, designed to meet the patient’s needs. This determines the frequency of visits by the doctor, nurse and others on the hospice team.

Will our family still have a say about our mother’s care if she’s on hospice?

Yes. Family input is important and is the driving force behind developing the most effective plan of care for your mother.

Who will talk to me about my loved one once we have hospice? Who will keep us informed?

You will always be kept up-to-date on your loved one’s condition. The primary hospice nurse can answer any questions you have, tell you about your loved one’s care and progress, and prepare you for what to expect.

Will hospice care for my dad 24/7? Will I still need to take care of him?

Yes, you will always be his primary caregiver. Hospice can supplement that care to help share the responsibility of caregiving with regular visits and education from the hospice care team.

What happens after my loved one dies?

Ideally, a member of your hospice team will be at the bedside at the time of death, able to explain the stages of death, make necessary phone calls, prepare the body and support the family in the first few hours. He or she will arrange for the body to be removed or, if the family would like to wait, perhaps until a family member arrives, that can be arranged as well. If a member of the team is not present at the death, he or she will arrive as soon as you call the hospice provider.

What about grief and other emotions? Does hospice address those?

Hospices employ bereavement specialists to address all aspects of grief, including anticipatory grief and the grief process after death. Hospices provide bereavement services for the family for up to 13 months after the death.

How Hospice Addresses Payments

Who pays for hospice? Is it covered by my insurance? Medicare? Medicaid?

Part A of Medicare covers 100% of hospice services. Generally, most hospices also work with Medicaid, the Veterans Administration and private insurance companies.

If I don’t have insurance, can I still receive hospice services?

Yes. If you don’t have insurance coverage, the hospice admissions staff will work with you to determine financial responsibility and self-payments and to find out if you are eligible for other benefits that could help pay for services.

If Medicare covers my hospice services, will I lose my other Medicare coverage?

No. If you need hospitalization for any reason unrelated to the terminal disease, traditional Medicare will be used. You can discontinue the Medicare hospice benefit at any time if you want treatment different from what hospice provides. You may also resume the Medicare hospice benefit at any time.

Is there a fee for a consultation?

Hospices do not charge fees for eligibility consultations.