How do I know if it’s the right time for hospice?

Whether you are considering hospice and comfort care for yourself or someone you love, the best strategy is to listen. Listen to your body and your heart. You know when your body is taking one step forward and two steps back. Those you care for know it, too. They may say things like, “I don’t want to go back to the hospital,” or “those treatments make me feel worse, not better,” or other similar statements. While it is often difficult, you need to be prepared to listen and truly hear what they are saying, honestly discuss their desires and goals, and look at your options for meeting those goals and fulfilling those desires. When comfort and quality of life are the primary considerations, it is time to think about hospice care. The staff at Home Hospice will be happy to discuss this choice with you, and even make a visit at no charge to help you determine if this is the right time to initiate this valuable care – for you and for your family.


When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made and who should make it?

When faced with a life-limiting illness it’s appropriate to discuss all options, including hospice. The choices about when to begin hospice care and which provider to use are the decision of the patient and his/her family. Home Hospice staff members are sensitive to your concerns and are available to discuss options with patients and their families.


How will I pay for hospice care?

Medicare and Medicaid have benefits which cover the cost. Some hospice organizations require a co-payment; Home Hospice does not. Many private insurance plans also have a provision for hospice care. If you have none of these resources, hospice care will still be provided by Home Hospice without a financial burden to you or your family.


Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I do so first?

Some questions you might ask your physician are:

  1. Do some families choose comfort care or hospice at this point? If the answer is, “yes, some do,” then you know it is time to consider the next step.
  2. What will the next round of treatment accomplish? As her/his doctor what are your goals with this plan of care? Will this move us closer to restoring health?
  3. Remember, this is often a difficult time for your physician. When you ask about comfort care, goals, and quality of life, you open the door for real honest communication that can help you choose what is best for you.


Who should I consult to help me make a decision about my hospice provider?

Talk with friends, neighbors, clergy, your physician and other trusted medical professionals who are familiar with hospice. Find out about personal experiences with hospice care. Remember, the choice of a provider is yours.


Is caring for me at home the only way I can receive hospice services?

No. You can receive care where you live – in your own home or someone else’s home, in a nursing home, in personal care homes, in assisted living centers, and at times in a hospital.


How does hospice care begin?

When a formal request or referral is made, we first listen to what is most important to you and then we provide you with an assessment and appropriate options from which to choose so that care can begin. Home Hospice provides a free evaluation visit for anyone considering hospice care.


What kind of support is available for the family and other caregivers?

Home Hospice recognizes that loved ones have their own special support needs. They may need information, resources, instruction, guidance, support, or just a friendly hug and a listening ear.  Our staff will learn about the patient and the needs of family members and will work to help in a variety of ways.


Will medications prevent me from talking with my family or even enjoying life?

Usually not, Home Hospice’s goal is to keep you as pain free and alert as possible. By consulting with you and allowing you to guide your care, hospices have been very successful helping patients retain a good quality of life.


Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

No. Home Hospice does nothing to hasten death. Hospice workers provide a strong presence and expertise during the dying process to bring comfort and assure the best quality of life possible.


What role does the physician play?

Most often, patients choose to have their own physician involved in their care. The Home Hospice team coordinates care with your physician, keeping him or her informed at every step. In coordination with your doctor, the hospice medical director will bring specialized expertise and experience in hospice to your care.


What about help for my family after I’m gone?

A varied and extensive bereavement support program is a vital component to hospice care. Hospice continues to communicate with and provide support for caregivers and family members for at least a year. Optional services include bereavement care, individual counseling, support groups, written materials, regular phone calls, and memorial services.


How many patients does an RN case manager care for at one time?

A manageable nurse to patient ratio that allows for adequate time to provide care is 10 to 12 patients.  Home Hospice believes this ratio allows nurses time to support their patients’ and families’ needs effectively.


How often may an aide visit to provide personal care?

You may not want an aide to help at all; or you may need almost daily help. Asking will help you know what is available to you now, and in the future.  The frequency can change as often as your needs change.


Are all levels of hospice care available?

There are four levels of hospice care – routine home care, provided in the patient’s place of residence; respite care, provided in order that caregivers can have a period of rest during the process; continuous or crisis care, provided in the home to address symptom management issues that need several hours of continuous intervention by staff; and inpatient care, provided in a facility to address symptom issues or crises which cannot effectively be addressed in the home.


What volunteer services are available?

Hospices must provide volunteer support for patients and families.  Home Hospice provides a wide range of programming with trained volunteers, alleviating the stress of care-giving and of being ill, increasing the level of support available, and improving the quality of life for both patient and family. When selecting a hospice, ask for information about the range of volunteer services and the training of volunteers.


How much hospice experience does the staff have?

Well established hospices with experienced staff members have the knowledge and expertise to provide the widest range of services and address a great variety of issues associated with end-of-life care.  Home Hospice staff has XX years of combined hospice experience.


How does Home Hospice work with long term care and other facilities?

Home Hospice has a contract with almost all facilities in our three county area in order that we can care for those who are now a resident in a facility or become a resident.  Often facility staff members suggest that they work better with a particular hospice.  If however, that suggestion comes from shared corporate ownership or interest, that choice may not be the most beneficial to the patient’s care.  Ask Home Hospice staff for a list of facilities with which we work.


How does the hospice work to improve quality of life? 

Allowing you to remain as comfortable as possible and at a location where you can enjoy your life, family, and friends increases most peoples’ quality of life.  We have services that can enhance this time of life.