This entry is the final entry in a three-part series on some of the basics of hospice.
Remember, hospice is a program of care and support for patients and families who are faced with a terminal illness. Hospice helps terminally ill people live their best lives, as comfortably as possible. The focus is on comfort, not on curing an illness.
Following are answers to commonly asked questions.
I’ve heard hospice helps people die. Do they do anything to bring death sooner?
No. Hospice does nothing to speed up or slow down the dying process. Our role is to lend support and allow the disease process to unfold as comfortably as possible. Our services are designed to bring comfort, control pain and other symptoms; address the emotional and spiritual needs of the patient, their family and caregivers; and provide assistance in matters of practical concern.
Can a hospice patient choose to return to curative treatment?
Yes. Receiving hospice care is always a choice. A patient may leave hospice and return to curative treatment if that is their choice. If the patient later chooses to return to hospice care, Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance companies permit re-activation of the hospice benefit.
Paying for hospice
A patient who chooses the Medicare hospice benefit agrees to give up treatments meant to cure disease. This is in return for other types of support and supplies. Hospice is a Medicare (federally funded) program. Many state Medicaid plans and private health insurance have a hospice benefit.
Does being on hospice mean I’m giving up hope or just waiting to die?
No. Hospice is about living—living your best life in the face of a terminal illness. Hospice strives to bring quality of life and comfort to a patient and their family. We constantly strive to help a patient and family live fully until the end. Often patients will feel better with good pain and symptom management. Hospice is an experience of care and support, different from any other type of care.
Do I have to be homebound to receive hospice services?
No. Hospice is about living fully. We encourage patients to do what they enjoy as they are able. The hospice team assists patients and families in achieving their goals and dreams as much as possible.
Does hospice provide support to the family after the patient dies?
Yes. Our Bereavement program follows family members for a year after the patient’s death. These services may include personal visits, providing information concerning the grief process and offering periodic opportunities for group support. The Bereavement program provides information and referral to other area resources when needed.