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10 Most Important Facts about Hospice
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10 Most Important Facts About Hospice 

1. Hospice care is a choice when medical treatments are no longer effective to cure a disease, or the symptom burden outweighs the benefit from treatment.  

2. Hospice is not curative care. Rather, it provides comfort to terminally ill individuals through pain relief, symptom management, and emotional and spiritual support.

3. Hospice patients receive care from an interdisciplinary team of highly skilled individuals that includes the medical director, physicians, nurses, aides, chaplains, social workers, and volunteers. 

4. Hospice Care is available wherever patients call home, from assisted living and group homes to nursing homes and private residences.  When symptoms are unmanageable at home, patients can receive hospice care in an in-patient unit at a nursing home or hospital. 

5. Hospice Provides four levels of care to meet a patient's needs:

  • Routine Hospice Care is the most common level and takes place at a patient's residence. 
  • General Inpatient Care offers pain control or other acute symptom management that cannot be provided in a home setting. 
  • Continuous Home Care provides more intensive nursing oversight for acute symptom management over a short period. 
  • Inpatient Respite Care provides temporary relief for the primary caregiver by allowing a patient to stay at a contracted inpatient facility for up to five days. 

6. Signs that a terminally ill patient may be ready for hospice care include:

  • Unrelieved pain
  • Repeated hospitalizations
  • Frequent infections
  • Worsening respiratory function
  • Sudden or progressive decline in functioning or eating
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty swallowing

7. The frequency of visit by hospice staff varies depending on a patient's needs.  Patients with well-managed symptoms may be seen once a week, while patients who are declining may receive daily visits for assessment and symptom management. The interdisciplinary team works together to ensure care is consistent with the patient's wishes and goals.

8. Medicare Part A covers 100% of hospice services, as do most private insurance policies.  medicare hospice services that are typically covered include:

  • Interdisciplinary staff visits to provide care, guidance, support and caregiver education
  • Medications for symptom control and pain relief
  • Medical supplies and equipment to ensure safety and comfort
  • Short-term inpatient care

9. You do not need a physician's order to request an evaluation for hospice care.  A doctor's referral is only necessary one a patient chooses to receive hospice services.  At that time, the patient's attending physician and the hospice medical director must certify the patient's life expectancy is 6 month's or less. 

10. Hospice continues to care for caregivers and loved ones after the patient has died with 13 months of bereavement services and support at no cost. 

Special thanks to our friends at JSSA their contribution to this page.  


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