What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care traces its origins back to Dame Cicely Sanders a physician at St. Christopher's Hospice in London. She is credited with recognizing that not all treatment is required to be curative. Instead, the goal of hospice is to manage the pain and symptoms a life-limiting illness causes.
Patients are eligible to receive hospice care when a physician predicts their life expectancy to be six months or less. While a physician referral is required for admission to hospice, family can request a meeting with a local hospice to discuss care and to determine if their loved one might be eligible.Read more...
While not all people who receive palliative care are hospice patients, hospice utilizes the pain and symptom management approach of palliative care in its treatments. Focusing on controlling symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and depression helps to improve quality of life.
Care under the hospice benefit includes all of the services, medications and equipment related to the life-limiting illness. These include:
- Physician care and oversight of the care plan
- Nursing and home health aides
- Durable medical equipment and supplies
- Spiritual care, dietary counseling, and other counseling services
- Continuous care to help during times of crisis
- Trained volunteers to lend support with respite, errands, reading and more
- Bereavement services for family
Paying for Hospice Care
The majority of patients receiving hospice care pay for these services using their Hospice Medicare benefit or private health care insurance. Medicaid also covers hospice care. Most non-profit hospice organizations will accept a patient regardless of their ability to pay.
Hospice offers patients:
- Choice about what types of care they wish to receive and where they would like to receive that care. The care might include massage therapy, music, art, aromatherapy or a friendly pet therapist who visits regularly.
- Management of the pain and symptoms a life-limiting illness creates. That can include everything from shortness of breath to anxiety.
- Spiritual care for the patient and for their family.
- The ability to remain at home wherever that is for them. It could be a loved one's house or a senior living community.
- Many hospice organizations also offer a hospice house care center.
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