What is hospice care

Oasis Hospice

Hospice is a compassionate method of caring for terminally ill people. Hospice is a medically directed, interdisciplinary team-managed program of services that focuses on the patient/family as the unit of care. Hospice care is palliative rather than curative, with an emphasis on pain and symptom control, so that a person may live the last days of life fully, with dignity and comfort, at home or in a home like setting.

Hospice care can take place in a:

  • Home
  • Skilled nursing facility
  • Personal care home
  • Assisted living facility
  • Hospital
  • Hospice inpatient facility

Hospice Frequently Asked Questions

Who makes the decision to enter a hospice program?

The law leaves the final decision up to the patient. However, the decision is usually made after discussion with the members of the family, the physician, clergy and others.

How does hospice work?

Hospice is for those persons who have a life expectancy of six months or less and can no longer benefit from curative treatment. Most hospice patients receive care at home and an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, counselors, therapists, social workers, aides and volunteers provides treatment. The hospice team provides medical care to the patient and support services to the patient and to the patient’s family and friends. Hospice does not attempt to cure, but rather to control pain and other symptoms in order to enable the patient to live as fully and comfortably as possible. Hospice addresses the medical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of the patients and their loved ones. Hospice is provided seven days a week. Patients routinely receive periodic in-home services of a nurse, home health aide, social worker, volunteer and other members of the hospice team.

Where can I get information about hospice?

Information on hospice is available from your physician, medical societies, Medicare, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the National Hospice Organization, and the Texas & New Mexico Hospice Organization (800-580-9270).

Is hospice expensive?

Hospice care has been shown to usually be less expensive than conventional medical care during the last six months of life. Hospice care is covered by most private health insurance carriers, and by Medicare and Medicaid.

What does Medicare provide?

The Hospice Medicare Benefit provides:
*Nursing care on an intermittent basis
*Physician services
*Medications; including outpatient medications for pain relief & symptom management
*Home health aide & homemaker services
*Medical supplies & appliances
**  Short term inpatient care, including respite services
**  Medical social services
**  Spiritual, dietary & other counseling,
**  Continuous care at home during periods of crisis
**  Trained volunteers & bereavement services

What does Medicare not cover?

The Medicare Hospice Benefit does not pay for treatments or services unrelated to the terminal illness. Any attending physician charges would continue to be paid through Medicare Part B coverage. However, the standard Medicare benefit still helps pay covered costs necessary to treat an unrelated condition. In addition, the patient may be asked to pay 5 percent of the cost of outpatient medications or $5 for each prescription, whichever is less and 5 percent of the Medicare rate for respite care.

Will I lose my Social Security benefits if I enter hospice?

Absolutely not. Medicare pays for the cost of hospice and Social Security payments are not affected.

What happens if I belong to an HMO?

HMO’s are not required to provide hospice care though many of them do. Any HMO receiving monthly payments from Medicare must inform Medicare recipients of Medicare certified hospice programs in the area. A hospice patient does not have to leave the HMO, and may continue to receive other HMO benefits not covered by Medicare.

How does hospice care for the patient?

Hospice offers palliative rather than curative care, with an emphasis on pain and symptom management through an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, bereavement counselors, clergy, physical and speech therapists and volunteers who address the medical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological needs of the patient and their loved ones. Hospice is usually provided in the home, but it can be provided in a nursing home or inpatient facility if available. Upon admission to a hospice, the hospice team will assess the patient’s needs and prepare an individualized care plan. The care plan will address medication and equipment needs and outline the care to be provided by the family and the hospice. This plan is updated periodically to allow for increased care as the patient’s condition changes. Care giving at home is not always easy and hospice provides telephone consultation on a 24-hour basis and night visits, when appropriate. In addition, hospice volunteers can be provided to run errands or a staff member for needed “respite” care to give family members a break and/or provide companionship to the patient.

Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

Hospice neither hastens nor delays the process of dying. Hospice affirms life and regards dying as a natural part of life. It uses sophisticated methods of pain and symptom control to enable the patient to live as fully and comfortably as possible. Hospice is concerned with the patient’s quality of life up to the time of death.

What happens if I change my mind about hospice?

A patient may elect to be discharged from hospice at any time. In addition, if a patient's condition improves to the point that they no longer need hospice, they will be discharged.

Is Hospice or Palliative Care right for me?

Who can receive this care?

Palliative Care Hospice Care
Anyone with a serious illness, regardless of life expectancy, can receive palliative care Someone with a serious illness and a life expectancy measured in months not years

Can I continue to receive treatments to cure my illness?

Palliative Care Hospice Care
You may receive palliative care and curative care at the same time. Treatments and medicines aimed at relieving symptoms are provided by hospice. The goal is comfort not cure.

Does Medicare pay?

Palliative Care Hospice Care
Some treatments and medications may be covered by Medicare and private insurers. Medicare pays all charges related to hospice. Most private insurers also have a hospice benefit.

Does Medicaid pay?

Palliative Care Hospice Care
Some treatments and medications may be covered. In most states, Medicaid pays all charges related to hospice.

Does private insurance pay?

Palliative Care Hospice Care
Some treatments and medications may be covered. Most private insurers have a hospice benefit.

Is this a package deal?

Palliative Care Hospice Care
No, there is no ‘palliative care’ benefit package. Yes, hospice is a comprehensive benefit covered by Medicare and most Medicaid programs.

How long can I receive care?

Palliative Care Hospice Care
This will depend upon your care needs, and the coverage you have through Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. As long as you meet the Medicare's criteria of an illness with a life expectancy of months not years.

What organization provides these services?

Palliative Care Hospice Care
  • Hospitals
  • Hospices
  • Nursing Facilities
  • Healthcare Clinics
  • Hospice organizations
  • Hospice programs based out of a hospital
  • Other healthcare organizations

Where are services provided?

Palliative Care Hospice Care
  • Home
  • Assisted living facility
  • Nursing facility
  • Hospital
  • Usually, wherever the patient resides. In their home, assisted living facility, nursing facility, or hospital.
  • Some hospices have facilities where people can live, like a hospice residence, or receive care for short-term reasons, such as acute pain or symptom management.

Who provides these services?

Palliative Care Hospice Care
It varies. However usually there is a team including doctors, nurses, social workers and chaplains, similar to the hospice team. A team – doctor, nurse, social worker, chaplain, volunteer, home health aide and others.