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What is Hospice Care?

 

Hospice is a concept of caring that provides comfort and support for those who are terminally ill with a life expectation of six months or less. Although the hospice benefit requires that a person with a life-limiting illness have a prognosis of six months or less, there is not a six month limit on hospice care services. With hospice, patients are allowed the opportunity to make their own decision about how and where they wish to live the remainder of their lives. In most cases, care is provided in the patients home, however it is also provided in freestanding hospice centers, hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Whether you are considering hospice care for yourself or a loved one, you may feel stunned, frightened, and unprepared for what lies ahead. There is good news! You don’t have to go through this experience alone. Our specially trained team exists to guide and support you during this difficult time. Our team is committed to helping patients and their loved ones find comfort and dignity during transition.

People who choose hospice are not “giving up.” Hospice neither hastens death, nor prolongs life. Hospice care provides comfort by concentrating on the person, not the disease. When a person has a life-limiting illness, hospice care is an option that addresses all the symptoms of a disease with a special emphasis on controlling pain and discomfort. With providing the comfort care that is so needed, Hospice then allows the patient and family to focus on the emotional and spiritual aspects of care.

The reasons for choosing hospice may vary, but some of the most common reasons of patients and their families generally include:
  • Hospice focuses on symptom management, comfort, dignity, and quality of life. The wishes of the patient and his or her family are always a priority and they play an integral role in the development and administration of the care plan. A hospice care team can consist of physicians, nurses, health aides, social workers, spiritual caregivers, counselors, therapists, and volunteers from the community—all of whom are specially trained to provide care and support for the patient and family.
  • Hospice’s ability to care for patients in their own home, so that they may spend their last days in a loving and familiar environment. While hospice is provided in many healthcare facilities, most hospice care in the U.S. is provided in the home.
  • Hospice’s affordability. Data shows that hospice care is often one-third less costly than care in a hospital. Hospice care is covered by Medicare, most private insurance plans, and HMOs. In most states, it is also available for Medicaid recipients.
  • Hospice’s bereavement resources, such as support groups, counseling, and workshops are an integral part of hospice care. These services are available to the family and loved ones for at least one year after the patient’s death.

Key to hospice philosophy is the support of a patient’s family during transition, as well as during the grieving that continues after a loved one has passed. The values and choices of the patient and family are always respected, and while the end of life process is a highly personal and intimate time, allowing a team of skilled professionals to assist can help tremendously.