What is hospice service?
Hospice is an alternative choice to traditional medicine whereby the focus of care is shifted from treating an illness or performing life saving measures to keeping a patient as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Additionally, the care is not only for terminally ill patients but it is also extended to the family to help transition, relieve, train, comfort, and counsel families during the patient’s end-of-life stage.
Who qualifies for hospice?
To qualify for hospice care, usually a physician certifies that a patient has a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months or less.
Who pays for hospice?
When a patient meets hospice criteria, Medicare and most insurance companies pay for hospice.
Where is the care provided?
Care for a hospice patient is usually in a home setting. But it can be provided anywhere from a nursing home, hospital setting, or a separate hospice facility. Because the care is usually focused on comfort and easing pain, there is no need for cumbersome machinery that require the patient to be in a facility.
How do I request hospice service?
Usually a discharge planner or physician would initiate the conversation with the patient and/or family member(s). But ultimately, the physician has to certify the patient for hospice care. The physician usually has a hospice he works with but the patient can also request to go on service with a particular hospice company he/she chooses. Other resources for hospice companies can found at The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization at www.nhpco.org and the Hospice Association of America at www.nahc.org/HAA
What are the services provided by hospice?
Services are usually assessed by a nurse to evaluate the need of the patient and the family. They include:
- Medical care – a hospice physician to oversee and coordinate care, many times working with the primary care physician
- Nursing care – if needed, may include either around-the-clock, or sporadically for check-ups or special services such as administering injections, training for feeding tubes
- Help with daily needs, such as bathing, cooking, or cleaning
- Visits from a religious counselor, if requested
- Counseling services, both for the patient and for family members
- Social services support, may include help with insurance and financial matters
- Respite care to provide breaks and rest time for family caregivers
- Medical equipment such as hospital beds, bedside commodes, wheelchairs, and oxygen
- Medications to help control pain and symptoms
- Other services may include physical, speech, dietary, and occupational therapy, and
- Often bereavement care or grieving support following a death.