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Last Updated on October 10, 2021 by Frank Davis
Definition & Meaning of Hospice Care
The concept of hospice care, sometimes referred to as comfort care, refers to a type of health care that helps improve the quality of life for people who are terminally ill by controlling their pain and symptoms. In the same manner as its name suggests, hospice care does not aim to cure the patient, but rather to care for them. To be eligible for Hospice, it requires two physicians to certify that the patient has a prognosis of 6 months or less if their disease runs its normal course. Various members of an interdisciplinary team are involved in providing care, including doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, home health aides, and volunteers. Hospice care is generally given wherever the patient resides. For example, patients may live in an apartment, house, assisted living facility, nursing home, or even a hospital. Hospice is normally covered 100% by insurances like Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies.
Hospice Care Frequently Asked Questions
How are you eligible for hospice care?
For a patient to become eligible for hospice care, the following requirements must be met:
- Insured through Medicare, Medicaid, VA, or a private insurance plan
- In order to receive hospice benefits, you will need a certification from the hospice and your primary doctor that you have a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months, if the disease runs its course normally
- With no intention of seeking curative treatment
What services does hospice care provide?
Among the services offered by hospices are the following:
- Physician Services – A primary care doctor and a hospice doctor or medical director will oversee care. Each patient gets to choose a primary doctor. This can be your prior doctor or a hospice doctor.
- Nursing Services – Nurses will come to your or your relative’s home or other setting to provide care. They are also responsible for coordination of the hospice care team.
- Home health aides – Home health aides can provide extra support for routine care, such as dressing, bathing and eating.
- Medical Equipment –
- Medical Supplies –
- Spiritual counselors – Chaplains, priests, lay ministers or other spiritual counselors can provide spiritual care and guidance for the entire family.
- Social workers – Social workers provide counseling and support. They can also provide referrals to other support systems.
- Pharmacists – Pharmacists provide medication oversight and suggestions regarding the most effective ways to relieve symptoms.
- Bereavement counselors – Trained bereavement counselors offer support and guidance after the death of a loved one in hospice.
- Volunteers – Trained volunteers offer a variety of services, including providing company or respite for caregivers and helping with transportation or other practical needs.
What if you live beyond six months on hospice care?
During the first six months, the benefit period is divided into two 90-day periods, each lasting about 3 months. Upon completion of the first six months, patients have unlimited access to 60 day periods. In other words, this means that upon completion of the six month period, you can continue to use hospice services for as long as you wish, as long as you are still certified to have a terminal illness.
When should I start hospice care?
The decision to begin hospice care should always remain in the hands of the patient. Your doctor and the hospice provider give you information that will help you come to an informed decision when it comes to hospice care. Hospice care may be an option for you if you meet any of the following:
- When you have exhausted treatment options and see no signs of improvement
- Your disease has advanced so far that your doctor has given you a prognosis of 6 months or less.
- Tired of treatments and the bad symptoms they are producing
- Hospitalized frequently, but prefer to stay at home
- You refuse to get curative treatments
Are you seeking hospice care?
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