Hospice Explained

What is hospice?

Hospice is physical and emotional comfort care for people who have an end stage illness. Hospice supports the patient as well as family, especially the primary caregiver who is often a family member or friend. A team of professionals that can include physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers, make periodic visits to the home, or as needed. A “plan of care” is created with patient and doctor. This plan is very personalized and can be adjusted as care continues. Hospice care can be provided in the private home or long-term care center (nursing home, assisted living center), wherever the patient lives.

When is it time for hospice?

Each individual must choose whether and when hospice is right. It is time to consider hospice when you or someone close to you:

  • has a life-limiting illness for which there is no cure
  • has reached a point where treatment doesn’t seem to be working and there are more ‘down’ days than ‘up’
  • believes that less pain has become the important factor
  • has begun to feel that hospital and emergency room visits are too wearing and overwhelming
  • has a family caregiver who feels that quality care has become more than they can do alone, and they need more support

In order to qualify for hospice, a physician must certify that in his/her opinion the patient is appropriate for hospice care and that the person’s life expectancy is six months or less. This time frame for care is somewhat flexible and hospice services can, in some cases, be extended beyond six months. If you want to talk with a professional about whether or not hospice care is appropriate for you, please contact our hospice staff.

Click the following link below to learn more:

Hospice Foundation of America offers a very helpful guide to starting the conversation about hospice care.

Who is eligible?

Heavenly Hospice provides services to those who:

  • Have a life limiting illness, as certified by a physician; View When is it time for hospice?
  • Understand and agree with basic concepts of hospice, including no longer wishing to seek a curative path for the illness
  • Have a primary care physician who agrees to follow or coordinate patient care or releases patient to hospice medical director’s care
  • Reside within one of our service regions. View Service Map Area.

How do I pay for hospice?

Hospice provides quality care and services to patients regardless of ability to pay.  In most cases the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Veterans benefits and most private insurance plans will cover hospice care, including medical equipment and medications related to the hospice illness. Heavenly Hospice will work with patient and family to ensure services can be provided.

The Medicare Hospice Benefit does not cover

  • Treatment or prescription drugs intended to cure the terminal illness
  • Room and board
  • Care in an emergency room, inpatient facility care, or ambulance transportation, unless it’s either arranged by the hospice medical team or is unrelated to the terminal illness

What are the 4 levels of hospice care?

At Heavenly Hospice we realize every patient and family have unique needs. The hospice benefit provides 4 different levels of care to allow us to meet your needs:

  • Routine Home Care focuses on addressing the needs identified in the patient’s plan of care.
  • Inpatient Care is short-term care provided when symptoms require medical attention that cannot be managed in a residential setting.
  • Respite Care offers the patient’s caregivers short-term relief from daily care responsibilities by offering placement in a skilled nursing facility.
  • Continuous Care maybe be provided when the patient requires intensive nursing care to manage symptoms, with a goal of keeping the patient in their home, as opposed to the hospital.

How does Heavenly Hospice address Continuous Care?

Heavenly Hospice works with families and living center staff to provide patient companion sitters and caregiver respite as needed.

“Continuous Care” is short term care that is provided when symptoms cannot be managed by the regular caregivers. Heavenly Hospice addresses this need initially with a hospice RN assessment. Under some health insurance plans, between 8 and 24 hours of nursing support for crisis care can be provided each day for a limited number of days. This intensive hospice support is provided by our team of experienced and compassionate medical professionals, addressing patients and family members at bedside during a crisis in which the patient requires predominately nursing care to achieve palliation or management of acute medical problems. Here are examples of conditions that may require Continuous Care:

  • uncontrolled pain
  • uncontrolled agitation/anxiety
  • uncontrolled respiratory distress
  • uncontrolled nausea and vomiting
  • family/caregiver crisis

What is Heavenly Hospice Companion Care?

Sometimes caregivers require additional support as signs and symptoms appear to signal end of life. Companion Care is bedside vigil companionship provided by rotating ’11th hour’ volunteers trained to be a comforting presence for patients and caregivers in the last hours. This team effectively communicates patient and family needs to hospice clinical staff and/or care staff facility and can help ease fear and anxiety.


Leave a Reply