Understanding Hospice

Last week, we gave a 24-question quiz to test your knowledge of hospice. What we have found is that there are many misconceptions of hospice, what it is, what it is designed to do, and when to pursue it. So, let’s dig into the questions together. As always, feel free to send follow-up questions to info@elitehhh.com

Hospice is a 24/7 service.

Hospice is provided on a 24/7 basis. That means patients and families on hospice can call at any time of day to speak with a nurse or have the nurse come out to the home to do a visit. Our goal is comfort. These issues do not always occur during a regular business day. That is why these are services designed to meet your needs…whenever that may happen.

Hospice is only for 6 months even if you continue to live beyond that time frame.

Hospice is a service designed to be initiated during the last 6 months of life. BUT, this is not an exact science, and patients are not beholden to the 6 months. Medicare guidelines dictate that hospice services are only to be stopped if the patient’s condition improves beyond a brief or temporary period that the life expectancy is now beyond 6 months. Hospice benefits do not expire, and patients can access these benefits if conditions change again, and they now qualify for hospice again.

Hospice is only for cancer patients.

Hospice is not contingent on a particular disease process, like cancer. In fact, many hospice patients have conditions related to heart and lung disease, dementia, kidney failure, neurological disease, and many other conditions. Hospice is not a cancer-specific service.

Hospice services are paid for by health insurance.

Hospice is covered by nearly all insurance plans. Medicare and Medicaid cover these services in nearly all 50 states. Coverage may vary state by state. Some things are not covered based on state benefits such as nutritional supplements and disposable supplies. Room and board at a nursing home and over the counter medications are typically not covered and are often paid out of pocket by the family or through a long-term care insurance plan.

Hospice services include comfort and grief support for families after the patient dies.

Hospice includes bereavement services. These services are provided for 13 months after the passing of a loved one. This may be one-on-one counseling, group sessions, or periodic phone calls. Bereavement is often extended to members of the public who interacted with the individual who passed as well.

Hospice can be provided in nursing homes.

Hospice can be provided in a residential setting. That means traditional homes/apartments/condominiums, nursing homes, and assisted living communities – including memory care facilities may all serve as locations for hospice.

Hospice is only appropriate if the person only has a few days to live.

Hospice is designed to be a gradual progression of increased care and support as symptoms change and the body changes. Most people find hospice is beneficial when the full range of skilled medical, emotional, and spiritual support services for provided for at least a month or longer.

Patients on hospice cannot receive care from spouses, partners, children or other loved ones.

Hospice supports the family and caregivers of the patient through education and partnership. Support for stress and identifying resources are often key elements of the hospice care plan. In most cases, family members provide the day-to-day patient care.

Hospice helps by speeding up the dying process.

Hospice does not speed up the dying process. At this point of the illness, no medical intervention can prolong or cure the terminal illness. Hospice is designed to support the quality of life by addressing symptoms and discomfort. Some studies suggest patients actually live longer on hospice than without the service.

Hospice cannot be provided in the home.

Over 66% of all hospice is provided in the home setting!

Only persons older than 65 can receive hospice.

Hospice is not constrained to age. Any person with a terminal diagnosis and expected to pass in 6 months is eligible for hospice, regardless of age.

Anyone can make a referral to hospice.

Anyone can initiate the process for a hospice review. Often, patients, family members, or caregivers reach out to hospice and ask if the service is appropriate. This usually starts a conversation with the patient’s provider (doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) to better understand the patient’s prognosis and goals. If hospice makes sense, the provider writes an order, and the hospice assessment occurs.

Lots of great information here. If there are questions, let us know. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. Email us at info@elitehhh.com

Hospice Quiz

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month!

Let’s test our knowledge and learn together!

True or False:

  1. Hospice is a 24/7 service.
  2. Hospice is only for 6 months even if you continue to live beyond that time frame.
  3. Hospice is only for cancer patients.
  4. Hospice services are paid for by health insurance.
  5. Hospice services include comfort and grief support for families after the patient dies.
  6. Hospice can be provided in nursing homes.
  7. Hospice is only appropriate if the person only has a few days to live.
  8. Patients on hospice cannot receive care from spouses, partners, children or other loved ones.
  9. Hospice helps by speeding up the dying process.
  10. Hospice cannot be provided in the home.
  11. Only persons older than 65 can receive hospice.
  12. Anyone can make a referral to hospice.
  13. Hospice provides medications, treatments, medical equipment and supplies that are related to the patient’s illness that is causing the need for services.
  14. Hospice ends when the patient dies.
  15. Hospice care is available to any individual expected to live 6 months or less.
  16. People who live alone are able to receive hospice.
  17. Hospice is designed to treat the emotional needs of the dying individual and their family.
  18. Dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cannot have hospice.
  19. While on hospice, individuals can receive treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery to cure the illness causing the need for services.
  20. Individuals on hospice cannot be taken to the hospital.
  21. Hospice care focuses on managing pain and symptoms.
  22. Hospice is for the caregivers, family, and friends, as well as, the patient.
  23. The Hospice team is a physician, nurses, social workers, and chaplains.
  24. Hospice is a minimum of 12 hours of daily bedside care provided by the clinicians.

Here are the answers:

  1. True
  2. False
  3. False
  4. True
  5. True
  6. True
  7. False
  8. False
  9. False
  10. False
  11. False
  12. True
  13. True
  14. False
  15. True
  16. True
  17. True
  18. False
  19. False
  20. False
  21. True
  22. True
  23. True
  24. False

Explanations will be in next week’s blog…stay tuned!

Top 6 Health Resources for Senior Self-Advocacy

As you get older, you will need to pay more attention to your health. This includes maintaining healthy habits such as a nutritious diet, and it also includes advocating for your health. This task may take practice and patience, but there are several tools that make it easier to advocate for your health. Consider the following six resources that will help seniors assert themselves when seeking care.

1. An Appointment Companion

If the thought of a doctor’s appointment makes you nervous, you aren’t alone. Medical appointments are a common source of anxiety, but a companion can be a great resource for self-advocacy. Bringing a trusted friend or family member with you can give you the courage you need to speak up, ask questions, and advocate for your health.

2. A Great Primary Care Provider

Just as a companion can help you feel comfortable enough to advocate for yourself, so should your primary care provider. It’s important to find a doctor who’s a good match for your needs, and sometimes that means you need to switch providers. If you’re wondering how to find a new primary care provider, you can start by researching doctors who are in-network for your insurance and then research reviews from patients.

3. An App to Store Medical Records

Keeping track of your own medical records is imperative, but organizing them can be difficult — especially for seniors who may have decades of files to sift through. Luckily, there are apps that make this task easier and allow you to maintain your records on a mobile device. To include medical image files like x-rays, you can quickly combine videos and multiple images using a free online tool. Simply upload the images, merge them, and download the file.

4. A Senior Living Facility

Seniors with serious health problems should think about whether a senior living facility may be an appropriate option. Having constant access to medical care may make it easier to advocate for yourself, and a skilled nursing facility like Elite Home Health & Hospice will ensure you receive the best care. Be sure to look into different facilities’ costs, reviews, and available payment options before proceeding.

5. A Preventive Care Program

According to research, Americans 65 and older spend an average of $6,833 in out-of-pocket health care costs in a year. This fact is worrisome, but seniors can minimize their potential expenses by investing in preventive care services. Many preventive care services are free thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and screening for illnesses such as cancer and infectious diseases can prevent serious ailments from progressing.

6. A Personal Health Coach

Seniors who want additional support in their health journey can invest in a personal coach to help them achieve optimal wellness. A health coach may help you create meal plans for better eating or implement a daily exercise routine to invest in physical fitness. Most importantly, though, a health coach will empower you to advocate for your health through better living.

Take Advantage of Health Care Resources for Seniors

There are many resources that can help you take better care of your health through self-advocacy. In addition to the better health outcomes that this can promote, you will also likely feel more confident when you’re able to advocate for yourself. With resources such as preventive care and a medical records app, seniors can handle their health effectively.