If you have ever had a loved one enter hospice care, you may already know how important this work is. Hospice providers are not only there to help keep patients comfortable and safe as they transition into death, but they also help families throughout the grieving process. Through their work with Hancock Health, Suburban Hospice is ensuring our patients receive the highest quality care and compassion right up until the very end.
Many Families Have Questions About Hospice
As hospice providers, Suburban Hospice knows that families are frequently confused about what hospice is, when they should begin this service for their loved one and how much it costs, as well as a variety of other things. We spoke to Executive Director, Jeannie Crowe, and Supportive Services Coordinator, Katherine Murray, to find out the most frequently asked questions received from patients and families. If you are wondering about hospice for yourself or your loved one, we hope this helps to make things easier!
When do I know it’s time to call hospice?
Crowe says that when a loved one sleeps more than he or she is awake, it is difficult to get them to their doctor’s appointments, they experience a decline in their ability to walk, talk or eat, or when treatments cease to work, it is time to call hospice. A doctor may refer your loved one to this service as well. Generally, hospice is recommended for those who have 6 months or less to live. If a patient is still alive after 6 months, this is cause for celebration and some even recover enough to “graduate” from hospice.
Will hospice make my loved one die faster?
“Hospice does not make people die faster. In fact, studies indicate that hospice patients live longer than those who do not have this type of care,” says Crowe. Hospice creates a comfortable, palliative environment so patients can enjoy their families and continue to do their favorite things.
Does choosing hospice mean you have given up?
Although hospice patients are no longer seeking treatment for illness, this does not in any way mean they have given up. According to Crowe, “Hospice is a change from ‘hoping for a cure’ to ‘hoping for some time.’” Murray adds, “Hospice is very hopeful work. And our patients and family members have hope as well. What they hope FOR changes … instead of envisioning a long life with lots of opportunities for connection, now time is short, and patients hope for meaningful moments.”
What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?
Hospice patients are no longer seeking treatment or a cure for their illness, but they are provided comfort measures. Palliative care also provides comfort measures, but these patients are still seeking treatment.
How does hospice care help the patient’s family, loved ones and caregivers?
Hospice workers want to provide care and support for the caregivers as well as the patient. Crowe says, “They can help in practical ways by getting needed medical equipment and medications or understanding insurance and legal documents. We understand that this is a hard time of life, and we use all the resources we have to make it easier.” Murray adds, “The care for the whole family continues beyond the passing of the patient, too. We have an extensive bereavement program that provides emotional, spiritual and grief support to family members.”
Do we pay for hospice?
Most insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid cover hospice care at home. This benefit does include the cost of medications, medical equipment, nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains, as well as support for the family after the death of their loved one. If hospice care is needed at a residential facility, the hospice portion is covered, but the family will still be responsible for paying room and board for the patient.
Can my loved one still visit the doctor or the hospital when they are on hospice?
Most commercial insurance companies as well as Medicare Part A state that, once you are in hospice, any treatments you receive must come through that organization. Emergencies are generally avoided because patients receiving hospice care are so closely monitored. However, if something happens and your loved one needs emergency care, you will need to notify your hospice team first.
Hospice is an important service provided to patients who are seeking comfort measures and end-of-life care. To learn more about Suburban Hospice and the kind, compassionate and skillful work they do assisting Hancock Health patients, head over to their website.