Hospice instills hope in families for comfort, for dignity, and for a peaceful dying experience. Patients who begin hospice earlier in their final months experience less suffering and have quality time with those they love. While palliative care differs some, it also provides the patient with coordinated care and better family support. Hope is about living in comfort and peace through one’s final days. There is hope in hospice.
The focus of hospice is on comfort, dignity, and quality of life through end of life, with a team addressing the medical, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the patient. The hospice team supports and guides the patient’s family or caregiver and is provided wherever the patient calls home.
Hospice clinicians are committed to bringing pain under control as quickly as possible. Pain management, a cornerstone of hospice care, helps both the patients and the caregivers.
Hospice is open to people of all ages, including children. While approximately two out of three hospice patients are over the age of 65, hospice care is available at any time of life.
Hospice staff are often present at a patient’s death and are closely involved as death approaches. One of hospice’s greatest gifts is helping the patient and his or her loved ones understand the dying process and know what to expect.
Sometimes the hospice team will recommend short-term inpatient or respite care. Respite care offers patient care for a few days in a nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or hospital so the patient’s family member, the primary caregiver, can rest or take a break.
The costs of hospice care are generally covered under Medicare. The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers a range of medical and supportive services that are deemed “reasonable and necessary.” Most state Medicaid programs offer hospice coverage, as do most private health insurance plans.
It is important to understand that while Hospice can respond to patient needs 24 hours a day, the team members do not provide around the clock, in-home patient care. The Hospice team helps the caregivers do their job, including recommending respite or other care providers as needed.