Hospice Q&A

The Questions Everybody Asks:

The word “hospice” has its roots in old French and Latin and means “a shelter or lodging for weary travelers,” a fitting description for those on their final journey of life. Hospice care is for patients who have a terminal condition that is expected to take their life within six months. Hospice is a specialized branch of medical care that cares for people who are dying and includes unique approaches for maximizing comfort, dignity and the quality of life for the patient’s remaining time.

It is time to consider hospice when a patient is not expected to live beyond six months. A patient can be referred by a physician or he or she may self-refer for hospice care. Patients are allowed to utilize the benefits of hospice care for six months, and even longer, if necessary. Unfortunately, many wait until their final few days before engaging hospice, so they miss out on the quality of life improvements that hospice care provides. More guidelines and a useful checklist are available at “Is it Time?

Wings of Hope Hospice provides care at NO EXPENSE to the patient or his or her family. Most private insurance provides a hospice benefit to patients with insurance. For others, the cost of care is covered by a combination of Medicare reimbursement and the generosity of private individuals and businesses in our community.

Patients can receive care indefinitely. While a prognosis of six months to live is necessary to qualify for benefits, patients frequently outlive expectations and sometimes recover so that hospice care is not needed for a long period. If a patient needs more time, the patient’s physician simply renews his or her referral.

The Questions You Might Be Afraid To Ask:

In a word, NO. It does not speed up the dying process. Hospice makes patients more comfortable. In fact, research shows that when hospice is adopted early, it actually extends both the length and quality of life of many patients.

Managing pain and other distressing symptoms are chief benefits of hospice care. In a traditional medical setting, the conservative medications available to the patient do not always provide adequate pain or symptom control. But hospice caregivers can provide effective management of both using a combination of more powerful medications and natural approaches to relief.

Certainly not — it’s the beginning of a new journey. Hospice restores a measure of control to patients. Hospice care provides unique services that can improve the quality of the patient’s life and help patients and those they love enjoy their remaining time together.