Most common myths about hospice:
Myth #1: "Hospice shortens life."
The facts: The focus of hospice is to make the remaining time one has more comfortable. Hospice is not designed to either prolong or shorten life, but rather to focus on quality of life. There are instances where patients do outlive their prognosis and even “graduate” from hospice care.
Myth #2: "Hospice is expensive."
The facts: Hospice is funded by Medicare Part A, Medicaid and also by most individual insurers. Often times, hospice services can actually remove some financial burden families or responsible parties, who may otherwise need to pay out-of-pocket for medications or equipment like beds or wheelchairs.
Myth #3: "Hospice is a place."
The facts: Hospice in general is a type of care. While there are locations that specialize in providing hospice care, patients may receive care on-site in a number of places, including home, hospital or an assisted living or retirement facility.
Myth #4: "Hospice is only for cancer/heart failure/dementia/etc."
The facts: Hospice care is appropriate for any patient with a life-limiting condition and a prognosis of six months or less to live. Care can be tailored to meet the unique needs of the patient. This includes not just their clinical requirements, but spiritual, emotional and social as well.
Myth #5: "Hospice is full-time care."
The facts: Most hospice cases involve periodic visits from doctors, nurses, volunteers and other team members. There are various circumstances involving pain management or other acute conditions that require additional care, but in general, care will still be provided by family or caregivers at the facility where the patient resides.
Frequently Asked Questions
Care Expectations & Practices
What is hospice care?
Hospice care focuses on the care, comfort, and quality of life of a person with a serious illness who is approaching the end of life. At some point, it may not be possible to cure a serious illness, or a patient may choose not to undergo certain treatments. Like palliative care, hospice provides comprehensive comfort care as well as support for the family, but, in hospice, attempts to cure the person's illness are stopped.
How does hospice care start?
An evaluation for hospice can be requested at any time, then a terminal diagnosis will be required by a doctor for care to be approved. At this point a hospice provider can be contacted to start the hospice admission process (please note that “admission” refers to the start of service and does not necessarily reflect the patient being physically admitted to facility or new location).
Can I ask for hospice?
If your loved one has a terminal condition and you think they may benefit from hospice care then we encourage you to speak to their physician about hospice. Some doctors are familiar with hospice and suggest is readily, but others may not be as familiar with its benefits and less likely to recommend it.
When should someone consider hospice?
The option for hospice should be a serious consideration when a patient’s life expectancy is limited and they or their loved ones decide comfort and dignity are the ideal goals, though it is good to start the conversation before an illness reaches this stage. In terms of the patient’s wellbeing, Hospice is best considered when quality of life is lessened due to an ongoing state of care or treatment that is not projected to help the patient live any longer or more comfortably. The answer is different for each patient and their family, but in simplest terms, the option of hospice should be weighed when quality of life outweighs quantity of life.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness, such as cancer or heart failure. It is meant to enhance a person's current care by focusing on quality of life for them and their family. Patients in palliative care may receive medical care for their symptoms, or palliative care, along with treatment intended to cure their serious illness.
Who can benefit from palliative care?
Palliative care is a resource for anyone living with a serious illness, such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, dementia, Parkinson's disease, and many others. Palliative care can be helpful at any stage of illness and is best provided soon after a person is diagnosed.
What are some similarities and differences between palliative care and hospice care?
Both palliative care and hospice care are aimed at providing comfort and improving the quality of life for individuals with serious illnesses. Palliative care can be provided along with curative treatment, while hospice care is for those who have a life expectancy of six months or less. Palliative care can be provided at any stage of illness, while hospice care is generally provided in the final stages of life.
Who makes up the palliative care team?
A palliative care team is made up of multiple different professionals that work with the patient, family, and the patient's other doctors to provide medical, social, emotional, and practical support. The team is comprised of palliative care specialist doctors and nurses, and includes others such as social workers, nutritionists, and chaplains. A person's team may vary based on their needs and level of care.