Hospice Care Facts
Hospice is a program of care and support for people who are terminally ill.
Hospice helps people who are terminally ill live comfortably.
Hospice isn’t only for people with cancer.
The focus is on comfort, not on curing an illness.
A specially trained team of professionals and caregivers provide care for the “whole person,” including physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.
Services typically include physical care, counseling, drugs, equipment, and supplies for the terminal illness and related conditions.
Care is generally provided in the home. But can be provided anywhere including nursing homes and hospitals.
Medicare hospice coverage:
The Medicare hospice benefit covers your care, and you shouldn’t have to go outside of hospice to get care. Once you choose hospice care, your hospice benefit should cover everything you need.
All Medicare-covered services you get while in hospice care are covered under Original Medicare, even if you were previously in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plan.
You must pay the deductible and coinsurance amounts for all Medicare-covered services to treat health problems that aren’t part of your terminal illness and related conditions.
How does hospice care begin?
Typically, hospice care starts as soon as a formal request or a ‘referral’ is made by the patient’s doctor. Often a hospice program representative will make an effort to visit the patient within 48 hours of that referral, providing the visit meets the needs and schedule of the patient and family/primary caregiver. Usually, hospice care is ready to begin within a day or two of the referral. However, in urgent situations, hospice services may begin sooner.
How does the hospice work to keep the patient comfortable?
Many 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.
What role does the hospice volunteer serve?
Hospice volunteers are quite common and they 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.