Addressing hospice misconceptions
When a loved one is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness or is nearing the end of their life, hospice care might become a good option. The goal of hospice is to provide comfort, pain relief, and support to those faced with a terminal illness or life-limiting disease. For those who have not experienced hospice care with a loved one, there can be some confusing aspects. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of eight things that you might not know about hospice care.
Hospice is an underutilized service
Hospice is often underutilized. The average time a person is on hospice is nearly 78 days, which means patients often don’t receive the full benefits of hospice care. According to Hospice News, “The No. 1 complaint that families report on hospice Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys is that they wish their loved one had entered hospice sooner.”
Additionally, being on hospice doesn’t mean you only have six months to live. Disease stabilization or plateaus can alter the amount of time a person receives hospice care. Every case is individual and unique, which allows for services to be available for as long as they are needed and appropriate, regardless of the original qualifying diagnosis.
Hospice is a covered benefit
Hospice services are eligible for coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and private insurance programs. These avenues make hospice an affordable solution for many patients and family members.
Hospice gives the patient control
Once someone chooses to be on hospice care, the goals of care shift from aggressive curative measures to comfort and quality of life. Regardless of where the individual is at on their hospice journey, they are always in control of their care and can opt out of hospice at any time.
Hospice benefits the whole family
Hospice is not just for the patient, but for loved ones and caregivers as well. Caring for someone with a life-limiting disease can be challenging and can take a toll on the emotional well-being of caregivers, family, and loved ones. Leaning on support from a hospice team relieves stress for caregivers and helps patients find peace in their final days.
Hospice is not a place
Hospice is an approach to care designed to serve the mind, body, and spirit of those with a terminal illness and nearing end-of-life. Care can be provided wherever the patient calls home—hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and personal homes. Think of hospice as a philosophy of care, not a place or destination.
Hospice serves a wide range of conditions
Although many patients on hospice do have cancer, it is not the only patient condition represented. Hospice is available for many individuals who have been given a life expectancy of six months or less and who have decided to stop aggressive curative treatments such as chemotherapy, dialysis, or certain medications. Other common conditions include dementia or Alzheimers, cardiac, and respiratory diseases.
Hospice can be requested by anyone
Anyone—family, friends, physician, patient, etc.—can initially make a hospice referral. However, to be considered for hospice under Medicare coverage, an attending physician or hospice doctor, will need to certify that the patient is in need of the service. Referring someone to hospice early on is often encouraged as receiving specialized care helps to improve quality of life.
Hospice and palliative care are different
Hospice and palliative care are often viewed in the same light. The major differentiators between the two come down to the philosophy of care and timing. Both types of care are geared toward making sure an individual is comfortable. Palliative care, however, focuses on pain management and comfort for chronic disease or serious illness regardless of prognosis or life expectancy and can be an option at any point in the disease progression.
For more hospice information about hospice, here are resources of what hospice care is and how providers use it in practice:
Constellation’s Complete Care at Home approach takes patients through the care continuum utilizing human connection and technology to provide the best patient care. For hospice patients and their families, that means from the start of services to bereavement services 13 months after end-of-life. We are there throughout that journey. Constellation is a family-owned, family-centered organization that has remained true to our commitment to providing the best patient experience and the highest quality outcomes. We believe this is accomplished by ensuring that everyone we connect with feels valued, trusted, and heard. Learn how we can help you.