Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the questions we are most often asked regarding hospice care. Our hope is that by answering them you will feel more confident in making your personal decisions.
You and your family have a lot on your mind. You may feel as though you have more questions than answers. Here are answers to some of the more common questions about hospice care. Our hope is that by answering them you will feel more confident in making your personal decisions. Please contact us if you have additional questions or concerns.
What exactly is hospice care?
Hospice is compassionate care for the terminally ill and their family members. In addition to addressing the physical needs of the patient, hospice provides spiritual and emotional care to both the patient and their entire family. Hospice allows people to spend their final days in dignity and comfort.
What specific assistance does hospice care provide to patients?
Each person is cared for by an entire team of professionals: the person's physician, a hospice nurse and the hospice social worker. Other services available to assist the patient and family are hospice aides to help with personal care, spiritual care, bereavement care, massage, pet and aromatherapy, and community volunteers. In addition to staffing, hospice care also provides medications, supplies and equipment related to the terminal illness.
How does hospice manage a person's pain?
Hospice nurses are up to date on the very latest in pain medications and techniques for symptom relief. It is the goal of hospice care to allow the person to live as alert and pain free as possible. Hospice recognizes that emotional and spiritual pains are as real as physical pain, so each is addressed with respect for the needs of each individual.
Does hospice do anything to hasten or postpone the dying process?
No. Hospice simply provides a comforting presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process. We often find that people actually live longer once their pain and symptoms are adequately managed. Research substantiates our findings. Studies indicate that patients have prolonged their lives by 20 to 69 days when palliative and hospice care is offered as soon as it is appropriate.
What other complementary or alternative therapies does hospice care offer?
Hospice at Home provides many comfort and life-enhancing services above and beyond Medicare requirements. The hospice team will work closely with the patient to include in the plan complementary options that will relieve stress, manage symptoms and promote well being. Some therapies that will be considered include a professional massage therapist who can provide massages for the patient and family caregiver, or skilled staff and trained volunteers who offer gentle touch to the hands and feet for relaxation and comfort. Other alternative therapies include relaxation music, aroma comfort, friendly pet visits or life reviews that allow the person to record his or her story.
How soon should a person decide about entering a hospice program?
At any time during a life-limiting illness it is appropriate to discuss all care options, including hospice. Understandably, many people are uncomfortable with discontinuing aggressive therapy. Hospice at Home staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and are always available to discuss them.
Research shows, however, that hospice care is most effective when it is given over several months. In fact, many patients and family members tell us they wish they had started hospice care earlier. They realize almost immediately the benefits of managing pain not only on a physical level, but socially, emotionally and spiritually. The added comfort at all levels truly improves the person's quality of living.
What is involved in the hospice admission process?
Hospice at Home will talk with the potential patient and/or their loved ones, and will schedule an informational visit to discuss all the options. A nurse will do an in-home evaluation to determine medical eligibility and find out what is most important to the person and their family, and to come up with a plan that keeps those things in mind. There is no obligation to sign with hospice at this time. Click here to learn more.
What changes should the family make in the home before hospice care begins?
None. The Hospice at Home team will access the patient's needs and make arrangements for all necessary equipment.
Can a hospice patient return to regular medical treatment?
Yes, the patient can be discharged from hospice care for a variety of reasons, including personal choice. The patient may be readmitted at a later date, if he/she is hospice-appropriate.
Is the home the only place that hospice care can be administered?
No. Although most patients remain at home, many patients live in nursing homes, adult foster care homes and assisted living facilities. We also provide care at our hospice residence, the Merlin and Carolyn Hanson Hospice Center in Stevensville, MI.
If the patient is eligible for Medicare, will there be additional expenses to be paid?
No. Medicare covers all supplies and services related to the terminal illness. Under this coverage, the patient receives the care of a specialized physician. In addition, the patient also receives services of Hospice at Home professional nurses, certified home health aides, social workers, spiritual care and bereavement staff, as well as volunteers. All of these services are covered at 100 percent. Other medical needs are also covered such as medical supplies and equipment (i.e. beds, walkers, wheelchairs) and prescriptive drugs related to the terminal diagnosis.
If Medicare or health insurance does not cover the patient, will Hospice at Home still provide care?
Yes. Hospice at Home is committed to providing care, regardless of the patient's ability to pay.
What types of services are provided to the family after the patient dies?
Hospice provides bereavement or grief support for at least 13 months following the death of a loved one. In addition to monthly mailings sent to the family, Hospice at Home offers short-term bereavement education classes and long-term bereavement support.
What is Lory's Place?
Lory's Place is a grief healing and education center dedicated to building hope and strength for every grieving family. It is a part of Hospice at Home and provides services at no charge to adults as well as children, ages 3 to 18. Lory's Place programs use a peer-to-peer approach that helps all ages (children, teens, young adults, parents, grandparents and friends) work through grief through support groups and activities. Lory's Place also offers an anticipatory grief program to assist those experiencing the anticipated death of a loved one, family member or someone close due to illness, disease or a life-limiting accident.