Frequently Asked Questions
When facing a decision about hospice for a loved one, it can be a stressful and emotional time. Beginning the process may seem overwhelming and difficult, while wanting to ensure the hospice experience is one of peace and calm is of the utmost importance. With this in mind, Southeast Hospice Network has assembled some of the questions we believe would best serve you in making a hospice decision for yourself or for a loved one. While these are a great starting point, we welcome the opportunity to talk directly with you about our services and experiences
When should patients and families consider hospice?
After a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, patients and their families should consider their choices for care. If aggressive treatments are not working or providing relief, the patient my choose to focus on comfort care vs. cure. A Hospice Care representative will be happy to talk with you about the hospice benefit.
How is hospice different from other medical care?
Hospice is focused on the patient’s and family’s needs. A coordinated team of hospice professionals, assisted by volunteers, works to meet the patient’s and family’s emotional and spiritual needs, along with the patient’s physical needs. The emphasis is on controlling pain and symptoms through the most advanced techniques available and on emotional and spiritual support tailored to the needs of the patient and family.
Hospice recognizes that a serious illness affects the entire family as well as the person who is ill. The family, not just the patient, is the “unit of care” for hospice professionals.
Who pays for hospice care?
Hospice is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, with few, if any, out-of-pocket costs to the patient. The Medicare hospice benefit covers costs related to the terminal illness, including the services of the hospice team, medication, medical equipment and supplies. Medicare reimburses for different levels of hospice care recognizing that sometimes patients require special attention.
What if I choose hospice care and then live more than six months?
Hospice care does not automatically end after six months. Medicare and most other insurers will continue to pay for hospice care as long as a physician certifies that the patient continues to have a limited life expectancy.
What kinds of emotional and spiritual support does hospice provide?
Hospice recognizes that people are more than a collection of symptoms. People nearing the end of their lives often face enormous emotional and spiritual distress. They are dismayed as their physical abilities begin to fail. They don’t want to be a burden on their families. They worry how their loved ones will manage without them. Sometimes, they feel deep regret about things they have done or said – or things left undone and unsaid. Hospice professionals and volunteers are trained to be active listeners and to help patients and families work through some of these concerns so that they can find peace and emotional comfort in their final days.
What if my condition improves?
Occasionally, the quality of care provided by Southeast Hospice Network leads to substantially improved health. When this happens, the patient can transfer care to a non-hospice provider. Later, if the patient becomes eligible for hospice, the patient can re-elect the hospice benefit. There is no penalty for getting better!
How does hospice manage pain and other symptoms?
Hospice physicians and nurses are experts at pain and symptom control. They are continually developing new protocols for keeping patients comfortable and as alert and independent as possible. They know which medications to use singly and in combination to provide the best results for each patient.
Who can refer a patient to hospice?
Your physician must order an evaluation for hospice care. Anyone with questions about hospice care can contact their local Southeast Hospice Network office.