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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com