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What is hospice care?

Sometimes described as “Comfort Care”, hospice treats the patient rather than the disease. Hospice care is family-centered and includes the patient and the family in the decision process. Medications are given to control pain and manage symptoms to improve the patient’s quality of life, to remain alert and enjoy each and every day.

Is all hospice care the same?

There are different types and levels of hospice care. Medicare requires certified hospices provide a basic level of care. The quality of all hospice care services can vary significantly from one hospice agency to another.

When should the decision about entering hospice care be made?

One of the problems with hospice is that it is often not started soon enough. Sometimes the patient, a family member or even the doctor will resist choosing hospice because they think it indicates a “lack of hope”, or “giving up”. You need to know that, if the disease goes into remission, the patient can be returned to active treatment. Meantime, the patient can benefit from aggressive pain management and individualized care provided by the hospice team.

Who makes the final decision to use hospice care?

Once it is determined that the patient would benefit from hospice care and the patients attending physician recommends hospice, the patient, or their legal representative makes the decision to choose hospice services.

Where is hospice care provided?

Hospice care may be provided in your home, an assisted living facility, skilled nursing facility, a hospital or inpatient hospice facility.

Who pays for hospice care?

Medicare, Medicaid in most states, the Department of Veterans Affairs, most private insurances plans, HMO’s, and other managed care organizations pay for all or part of hospice care. You may also choose private payment for these services. A staff member at the hospice you choose will assist you in identifying your payment source.