Understanding hospice care can be an essential comfort to patients and their loved ones during difficult times. Hospice professionals are a wonderful resources for understanding hospice and palliative care more thoroughly. Keep reading for common questions related to hospice care.
Will my hospice team be specific to me? How frequently will they visit me?
Each person who receives hospice can access an interdisciplinary team that includes a hospice aide, social worker, registered nurse, and chaplain, in addition to volunteers. Your family and you should work with the hospice team to come up with a plan for care that outlines the goals and the actions related to your hospice care.
Your medical condition as your illness progresses and the needs of you and your family determine how frequently visits occur. How often volunteers and spiritual advisors visit depends on the request and service availability. Factors including travel requirements cause variability in the number of people served by each hospice team member.
Is hospice care available everyday, 24 hours per day?
After administrative offices close, hospice is “on call” every day, 24 hours per day. Hospices are required to have nurses who can respond to a call for help in minutes, when necessary. A hospice program might also have social workers and chaplains who are on call.
What kinds of things do hospice volunteers do?
Hospice volunteers usually provide multiple types of support to patients and their loved ones. Tasks can include preparing light meals, running errands, looking after a patient so loved ones can take a break, and providing companionship and emotional support to patients and their loved ones.
Hospice programs receive applications from and interview potential volunteers to ensure a prolonged commitment to this kind of volunteer work. Hospice programs also have organized training programs for volunteers. Topics covered in training programs for volunteers include confidentiality, understanding hospice, listening skills, how to work with families, symptoms and signs of impending death, and support for bereavement, grief, and loss.
What if I can’t have at-home care?
More and more hospice programs have hospice facilities of their own or have made arrangements with local hospitals, inpatient residential facilities, or nursing homes that specialize in caring for those who can’t receive at-home care. Insurance companies might not cover the costs related to living in these types of facilities. Before you call for hospice care, you should find out whether your insurance covers this kind of care.
Can hospice care for me if I live in a long-term care facility or a nursing facility?
No matter where someone who has a life-limiting illness lives, services from hospice can be provided. Someone living in a long-term care facility or a nursing facility can receive home health aides, hospice nurses, chaplains, volunteers, and social workers for specialized visits in addition to the care and services that the nursing facility provides. The nursing home and the hospice have a written agreement so the hospice can serve the facility’s residents. Medicare Hospice Benefits cover care related to terminal illness, but do not cover the charges related to daily room and board at a facility. Medicaid covers charges for room and board for those who are eligible.
Are hospices inspected and evaluated by state and federal reviewers?
Yes. Hospice programs must meet state licensure requirements in order to deliver care. Hospices must also comply with federal regulations before they can receive approval for Medicare reimbursement. To ensure compliance with regulatory standards and maintain their licenses and eligibility for Medicare reimbursement, hospices must submit to periodic inspections.
How can I determine whether a particular hospice is known for excellent care?
Hospices often use tools to measure themselves on hospice quality standards. National hospice organizations provide standards so hospice programs can ensure that they provide quality care and service. Hospices often use these standards to complete self-evaluations. Most programs also use surveys that measure family satisfaction as a way to receive feedback about and improve their services. Before you commit to using a hospice, ask them to share their family satisfaction score summaries for the previous months.