Last Updated: February 5, 2015
Hospice care helps the terminally ill and their families make
the most of the last days, weeks, or months of their lives. Rooted
in the word "hospitality," hospice is not a place, but a philosophy
of care that embraces death as a natural part of life, and seeks to
help patients meet this end with grace and dignity. This means
comforting the patient physically and emotionally while supporting
their loved ones as they navigate end of life decisions. Below are
answers to common questions about hospice care:
What is the Difference Between Hospice and Palliative
medicine helps patients who are suffering from serious chronic
illnesses alleviate their symptoms, maximize their independence and
coordinate their care. Hospice is designed to bring security,
dignity, physical comfort, pain relief and emotional support for
people who are approaching end of life.
Who is Eligible for Hospice Services?
Hospice care is generally intended for those who are terminally
ill and likely to die within six months. A doctor's referral is
generally all that's needed for a patient to become eligible for
hospice services. In the U.S., 40% of patients receive hospice care
What Does Hospice Care Entail?
The primary focus of hospice care is maintaining the patient's
quality of life. This may involve the following services:
- Coordination of Services: Once a patient is
enrolled in hospice, the service provider will organize and manage
all aspects of care.
- Pain and Symptom Management: In hospice, all
medical care is focused on helping patients get maximum enjoyment
from their lives. Keeping pain and symptoms under control, while
minimizing side effects is key.
- Support for Daily Activities: Help with things
like bathing, dressing, and eating are all included in hospice
- Medical Supply Management: All necessary
supplies and equipment will be provided as needed.
- Counseling: Counselors can help patients and
their families process their grief and achieve some measure of
- Respite Care: Often loved ones need a
break from caregiving. In this case skilled care providers will
step in to look after the patient.
- Volunteer Support: Most hospice services
can organize volunteers to help with errands and
Who Administers Hospice Care?
In addition to the patient's loved ones, doctors, nurses, home
health aides, counselors, and others are involved in care as
Where is Hospice Care Administered?
While patients can receive hospice care in hospitals, long term
care communities, and specialized hospice centers, most people
elect to receive hospice care at home.
What Documentation is Required for Hospice Enrollment?
Broadly speaking, the paperwork required for hospice enrollment
includes the following:
- Legal Documentation: This includes
documentation of any powers of attorney, legal guardianships,
advanced care directives, or do-not-resuscitate orders.
- Health Insurance Information: This might
include private health insurance, the Medicare Hospice Benefit
Election form, and/or the Medicare Secondary Payer form.
- Patient Consent for Care: Either the
patient or his or her legal guardian will need to sign this form,
which states that the patient or guardian understands the purpose
and scope of hospice care.