Are all hospice agencies the same?

Hospice is a Medicare program, so agencies that pursue Medicare certification must offer the same basic services. However, the “same basic services” does not necessarily mean these services are equal. Hospice providers have choices in how they design and carryout a treatment plan. These differences can provide a very different hospice experience across agencies.

If you have a choice, selecting a hospice agency should be a carefully considered decision. For example, an agency can be certified only by Medicare which is managed by the state the agency is in. However, agencies can choose to pursue stricter and more stringent standards. This may involve accreditation with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization or review by an outside organization, such as the Community Health Accreditation. Agencies that pursue these higher standards show that while the minimum requirements to provide “hospice” are met, these agencies are choosing the next level of care and are measured on their performance across other aspects of the hospice service.

Hospice is a medical service, but not all of hospice has to be medically focused. Some hospice agencies embrace alternative interventions such as massage therapy, energy work, therapeutic music, and palliative therapies, such as physical, occupational or speech. Also, some hospice agencies support specific populations, such as geriatrics, veterans, or pediatric patients. Some hospice agencies foster building in cultural considerations into the care, such as language used during service, religious beliefs and practices supported through spiritual care, and intentional inclusion of the diversity in the community. If these are important to you, make sure the hospice agency you select is open to alternative medicine options, such as naturopathic or Eastern approaches.

Finally, hospice is a 24/7 service, but that means different things for different providers. A monitored voicemail is different than a live answering service or a scheduled nurse visit the next day versus a middle of the night nurse phone call versus a middle of the night in-person nurse house call. Knowing what you need and want can help aid in differentiating what is available.

Choosing the right provider can demonstrate the unique value of hospice or tarnish a perspective of what the hospice benefit actually is. Take your time and start early. Schedule a meeting with a potential provider to better understand how they do hospice!

What does it mean to age well?

When we think about aging, we may find there are conflicting views about the freedom of retirement and the challenges of one’s body becoming older. But, when it comes to the word itself, “aging” can mean lifestyle choices and living one’s best life. Sometimes, it is taking an intentional first step to plan out what aging will be for you.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, aging well involves intentionality and active participation in your health and lifestyle. Being aware of your physical needs and changes may involve having conversations with friends and families about your goals and plans for your health, your living abilities, and how you intend to change these areas over time. Aging well also involves plans for your financial health, supportive resources to continue living your best life, and having a plan for your needs as you change. Aging well also involves a plan for your mental and emotional health, supportive friendships and community outside of your immediate family, as well as engaging in activities that create meaning for your life. Finally, healthy aging involves a balanced diet and some form of physical activity to support your overall health goals.

Aging is more that numbers rising, another calendar year gone by, or physical change. Aging is something you can plan for and work with. At least, that’s what we believe!


What is Hospice?

Hospice is not a place. Hospice is not a death sentence.

Hospice is the specific service that is provided when you are no longer seeking curative treatments. The goal of hospice is your comfort to support you in living your life. Hospice is flexible in where it can be provided.

Hospice does not require that you stop all medications. The goal of hospice is to make sure the medications you are taking serve you. If you are uncomfortable, because of side effects of your medications, these might be removed, because the goal of hospice is comfort.

In hospice, you do not have to be a DNR (do not resuscitate). The goal of hospice is to help you understand these decisions and honor what you have requested.

Hospice is prescribed by your provider and can support individuals with various forms of cancer, dementia, cardiac disease, pulmonary disease, renal disease, liver disease, HIV/AIDS, neurological disease, and stroke or coma.

At Elite, we do hospice differently. Our team designs your program based on your needs where your voice has a say in your visits, your care goals, and your family’s needs.

October is Home Health & Hospice Month

Elite has the pleasure of serving both home health and hospice. Because we are a dual agency, we are able to support our patients along the continuum of their rehabilitation phases and in their end-of-life process. We believe that these relationships that we build with our patients and their families allows us to give care in a unique manner. Specifically, we are able to contextualize rehabilitation with the background of working through past rehabilitation stays and recoveries, facilitating family support or needing to hire additional aid, and building care plans based on your goals of care.

Elite does it differently. One of our key pieces of building your care plan is to discuss what your goals of care are. What procedures? What treatments? What family members? What friends? What resources? Our liaisons meet with current, prior, and potential patients to go through what your goals of care mean, and what needs to be done to make them a reality. We are intentional in these meetings to support you in making the choice for you in that moment. And, we are available to meet again if those goals change, and a different decision needs to be made.

Home health and hospice are about relationships.

This month we have the honor of celebrating the work our team does every day. Please join us in learning about home health and hospice services this month!