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FREQUENTLY AsKED QuESTIONS




1. What is hospice?
2. Who can receive hospice?
3. Where is hospice care provided?
4. How does hospice home care differ from other types of health care services?
5. What if our physician doesn't know about hospice?
6. How is hospice paid for?
7. Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?
8. Does choosing hospice mean giving up hope?
9. What does the hospice admission process involve?
10. Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
11. What if I change my mind about hospice?
12. How long can a patient receive care?
13. When is the hospice team available?
14. How difficult is caring for a dying loved one at home?
15. Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?
16. Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
17. How does hospice "manage pain"?
18. Is hospice affiliated with any religious organizations?



1. What is hospice?

Hospice is a service provided for people at the end of life. It is designed for comfort rather than a cure; it provides comprehensive and compassionate care for patients and their families. Hospice is offered in more than 3,000 programs across the country.


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2. Who can receive hospice?

Any patient who is diagnosed with a terminal illness is eligible for the hospice palliative care. All U.S. citizens age 65 and older are entitled to Medicare coverage for hospice at the end of life.


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3. Where is hospice care provided?

Hospice care is provided in the patient's home, wherever the home may be (their home, the home of a relative or a friend, a nursing home, or in the hospital) some hospices have residential units where hospice is provided, designed for a homelike setting.


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4. How does Hospice home care differ from other types of health care services?

Hospice is the only licensed health agency that focuses on the end-of-life care. Unlike most home health care providers, hospice recognizes that the patient will not get well and provides comfort and support, rather than a cure. Hospice care is provided by a team of interdisciplinary care givers. These professionals and specially trained volunteers attend to a wide range of physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Hospice care focuses on the entire family, and educates loved ones about caring for the patient. Hospice care does not end when the patient dies. Bereavement services are provided for family members for up to 13 months after the patient's death.


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5. What if our physician doesn't know about hospice?

Most physicians know about hospice. If your physician wants more information about hospice, it is available from the National Council of Hospice Professionals Physician Section, medical societies, state hospice organizations, or the National Hospice Helpline (1-800-658-8898). In addition, physicians and all others can also obtain information on hospice from the American Cancer Society, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the Social Security Administration. Your physician may also contact us.


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6. How is hospice paid for?

Hospice is covered by most major insurers including, Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-Cal, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, HMO, and other private insurers. This includes medical equipment and illness-related medications. When insurance does not cover hospice care, Hospice Touch offers many services regardless of the ability to pay.


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7. Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?

The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy, or friends.


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8. Does choosing hospice mean giving up hope?

Choosing hospice does not mean that you are giving up hope. It means that you have opted for treatments that will help manage various medical symptoms. Hospice allows you to feel comfortable and provides support in order for you to have control over your life.


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9. What does the hospice admission process involve?

One of the first things the hospice program will do is contact the patient's physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for the patient at this time. (Most hospices have medical staff available to help patients who have no physician.) The patient will be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital.

The "hospice election form" says that the patient understands that the care is palliative (that is, aimed at pain relief and symptom control) rather than curative. It also outlines the services available. The form Medicare patients sign also tells how electing the Medicare hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage.


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10. Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?

Certainly! If the patient's condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. If the discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private insurance will allow additional coverage for this purpose.


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11. What if I change my mind about hospice?

Hospice is a choice, so a patient may choose to leave at any time.


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12. How long can a patient receive care?

The patient may receive hospice care indefinitely if the patient's condition remains appropriate for care.


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13. When is the hospice team available?

The hospice team is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. A nurse is always one call away any day, at any hour, including holidays.


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14. How difficult is caring for a dying loved one at home?

Caring for a dying loved one at home can be quite difficult but hospice provide services around the clock to manage the experience.


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15. Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?

Your hospice provider will assess your needs, recommend any equipment, and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the disease progresses. In general, hospice will assist in any way it can to make home care as convenient, clean, and safe as possible.


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16. Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.


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17. How does hospice "manage pain"?

Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so it can address each. Hospice nurses and doctors are up to date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. In addition, physical and occupational therapists can assist patients to be as mobile and self sufficient as they wish, and they are often joined by specialists schooled in music therapy, art therapy, massage, and diet counseling. Finally, various counselors, including clergy, are available to assist family members as well as patients.


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18. Is hospice affiliated with any religious organization?

No. While some churches and religious groups have started hospices (sometimes in connection with their hospitals), these hospices serve a broad community and do not require patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs.


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