Frequently Asked Hospice Questions
Is hospice for people who have “no hope?”
Is hospice only for people with cancer?
Is hospice care expensive?
Do I need a referral for hospice care?
How do I know when to call hospice?
If I go on hospice, can I leave the house?
Do the high doses of morphine kill the patient?
Is hospice a “place?”
Can hospice provide care to patients that need high-tech care?
If I go on hospice, can I treat common illness such as an ear infection?
If I go on hospice, will I lose the care of my family physician?
Should we wait for our doctor to talk about hospice care?
Should we call Hospice of Helping Hands even if we think it's too early?
Is there is only one hospice?
Are all hospices the same?
Can an enrolled hospice patient ever change his/her mind?
After a patient’s death, does hospice care end?
Answer: Hospice is a different kind of hope. It is the hope that the patient will spend the rest of their days in comfort and with dignity. The care of the body, mind and spirit that the patient receives from the hospice team, relieves them from pain so they can focus their attention on how they want to spend the remainder of their life. Hospice doesn’t mean that you are giving up. It means that you are taking control over how you want to spend the rest of your life.
Answer: Many hospice patients do have cancer. However, just as with cancer, many other diseases cause pain and symptoms that worsen as the disease progresses; such as, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, heart, lung and kidney disease. Having hospice care helps to reduce discomfort and suffering often present with any
Answer: Hospice care is a 100% covered benefit under Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurances. If no insurance can be obtained, Hospice of Helping Hands has a process in place to assist patients who need care.
Answer: Patients are admitted to Hospice of Helping Hands with a physician's order. However, patients and families may begin the process with a phone call to Hospice of Helping Hands at 800-992-6592. If it appears that hospice care is appropriate and beneficial, our staff can assist families in getting the necessary authorization from the patient's physician. Hospice of Helping Hands also employs a Medical Director to assist and care for patients who have no family physician.
Answer: Now is the Time to Call Hospice. A common response to our services is, “I wish we’d called hospice sooner.” Every disease is different and has different guidelines for hospice admission. If you are on this site looking for answers - call us.
Hospice services can be provided when a physician certifies that, based on the typical progression of the disease, the patient has 6 months or less to live and the patient has made the decision to stop trying to cure the disease. Unfortunately, many patients enter the hospice program too late to benefit from all the services available to them and their families. An early hospice referral helps with:
• Expert pain & symptom management
• Patient and family sense of control, life meaning and value
• Relief of care-giving burdens
• Strengthening of relationships and end-of-life planning
Answer: Yes. When under hospice care the patient lives as normally as possible; doing as much as they are able. The hospice team comes to their home based on how often the patient needs them and will tell you the days they are coming. That is what makes hospice care so beneficial - it allows the patient to go out and do what they want with the rest of their life because we have managed their pain. So, whether it is going fishing with their son, going for coffee with their girlfriends or going to their granddaughter’s wedding, it is all possible with hospice care.
Answer: No, this is a long-time myth. Morphine does not kill the patient but helps treat the pain they may be experiencing. In fact, a recent study demonstrated that terminal patients on the correct dose of morphine to control their pain actually live longer than those with uncontrolled pain. Hospice has unmatched expertise in managing pain so patients remain comfortable, yet alert, in order to enjoy each day to the fullest extent possible.
Answer: Hospice is a special type of care for those in their end-of-life journey, not a hotel you check into. A hospice may have a central office, but the staff travels to patient homes (wherever home may be – a nursing home, assisted-living facility or the house they have spent the past 60 years in.)
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Answer: End-of-life care is complex and diverse. The entire hospice team (the patient’s physician, the hospice medical director, registered nurses, social workers, home health aides, spiritual advisors, bereavement counselors, volunteers, therapists, and dietitians) work together with the family to develop a care plan that best suites each individual patient to ensure they receive the best care possible. At Hospice of Helping Hands, we emphasize the importance of continuing education and training so our staff is informed about the most up-to-date comfort measures available. All of our staff has training and experience that makes them experts in the field of hospice and pain management.
Answer: When choosing hospice care the patient decides to forego curative treatments for his/her terminal illness only. The patient can treat any other conditions or illnesses. So, if the patient gets an ear infection, we encourage them to go to the doctor and receive a prescription.
Answer: Hospice patients may keep their own physician who will work closely with hospice staff to plan and carry out their care. When making the referral for hospice services, the physician chooses to continue managing the patient’s care, to share management with the hospice medical director or to transfer the patient to the hospice medical director.
Answer: While Hospice of Helping Hands works to keep physicians in our service area informed and involved, they may not always be aware of all the services we offer. If you are wondering if hospice services would be appropriate and beneficial for your loved one, you can always call us directly at
Answer: Yes. Hospice of Helping Hands welcomes the opportunity to provide guidance to families about end-of-life issues so they are informed about all their healthcare options. Understandably, many people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping aggressive efforts aimed at "beating" a disease. Hospice of Helping Hands' staff are highly sensitive to these concerns. You do not need a physician's referral to call us for information. If it appears that hospice care would be appropriate and beneficial, our staff - with your permission - would contact your doctor to discuss it.
Answer: No, there are several hospice programs in any given community that all function separately.
Answer: All hospices must operate under the same Medicare guidelines and state regulations. This means that all patients should receive the same core services. However, there are some characteristics that differentiate hospice programs and hospice administrators may interpret the regulations differently. Some differences may include:
• Additional services that go beyond the guidelines and regulations
• How many days a week they will provide a home health aide
• Availability on nights and weekends
• Grief support for children
• For-profit vs. not-for-profit status
• The people they have on Staff
At Hospice of Helping Hands we take great pride in our excellent and experienced staff. We are a non-profit organization that focuses all our energy at the patient’s bedside to ensure comfort for the end-of-life journey. We also provide additional services; such as, bereavement to the community and children’s programs. We are a non-profit organization; which means we are able to spend every penny at the patient’s bedside.
Answer: Yes, it is the patient's choice to have hospice care. In fact, if the patient's condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. If the discharged patient should later desire to return to hospice care, they would be able to do so pending eligibility.
Answer: Bereavement services and grief support is available to families for at least 13 months after a death.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-992-6592. We would be more than willing to answer any questions or come to your home for a free informational visit.