No, hospice is a service available to all individuals with any life-limiting illness.
Listed below are common diagnoses of patients receiving hospice care:
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA – Stroke)
- Coronary Artery Disease
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- End Stage Dementia
- End Stage Degenerative Neurological Diseases (Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, etc.)
- End Stage Renal Disease
- General Debility/Failure to Thrive
- Liver Disease
- Renal Failure
Hospice is designed to serve all aspects of a person’s wellbeing and comfort. We are available to provide and assist with:
- Education for the patient and family on care needs, the disease process, nutrition, medications, physical changes, and emotions.
- Regular assessment of the patient’s condition and comfort.
- Addressing pain and other symptoms and recommending adjusting medications when necessary to maximize comfort, conserve energy, and enhance quality of life.
- Coordinating care and communicating with the patient’s physician, family, and caregivers.
- Hospice Aides to assist with bathing, dressing, and other personal care.
- Providing support to ease emotional and spiritual distress for the patient, family, and caregivers.
- Providing on-call nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for questions and visits.
- Helping arrange additional resources if needed.
- Respite for family caregivers if needed.
- Medical equipment and supplies as related to the terminal diagnosis.
- Trained Volunteers are available as visitors, friends, and support to the patient and family/caregiver.
- Bereavement support prior to and following the patient’s death.
- Other services provided as needs are identified by the IDG: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Dietary Counseling.
Every person receiving hospice has access to a medical director, registered nurse, social worker, hospice aide, chaplain, and volunteer (also known as the interdisciplinary group). For each patient and family, the interdisciplinary group writes a care plan with the patient/family that is used to make sure the patient and family receive the care they need. Visits are based on the patient and family needs as described in the care plan and the condition of the person during the course of illness.
Yes- hospice care is available ‘on call’ after the administrative office has closed, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Hospice has nurses available to respond to a call for help within minutes, if necessary.
Hospice volunteers are generally available to provide different types of support to individuals and their loved ones including running errands, preparing light meals, staying with a patient to give loved ones a break, and lending emotional support and companionship to individuals and loved ones.
A growing number of hospice programs have their own hospice facilities or have arrangements with nursing homes, hospitals or inpatient residential centers to care for patients who cannot be cared for at home. These services may or may not be covered under your insurance benefit.
Hospice services can be provided to a person who has a life-limiting illness wherever they live. This means a person living in a nursing facility or long-term care facility can receive specialized visits from hospice nurses, hospice aides, chaplains, social workers, and volunteers, in addition to other care and services provided by the nursing facility. The hospice and the nursing home will have a written agreement in place in order for the hospice to serve residents of the facility.
Yes. There are state licensure requirements that must be met by hospice programs in order for them to deliver care. In addition, hospices must comply with federal regulations in order to be approved for reimbursement under Medicare. Hospices must periodically undergo inspection to be sure they are meeting regulatory standards in order to maintain their license to operate and the certification that permits Medicare reimbursement.
- The origin of the concept of Hospice began in Europe in the 4th century. Monasteries opened their doors to travelers and provided food and shelter. It was considered a place of rest.
- In the 19th century, London hospices were opened as a place for the dying.
- The first modern day Hospice was opened in London in 1967 and today’s version of Hospice was conceived by Cicely Saunders.
- The first American Hospice opened in 1974 by Florence Wald.
- In 2006 1.3 million people received Hospice care in the 4,500 Hospice programs throughout the US.
- 36% of all deaths occurred under the care of a Hospice program.
- The average length of stay in a hospice program is 29 days.
- 48% of hospice patients die in residence, 25% in nursing homes, and 27% in in-patient hospitals.
- In 2006, 44.1% of Hospice patients had cancer, 55.9% had non-cancer diagnoses including heart disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and pulmonary disease.
- Hospice patients live an average of one month longer than non-hospice patients.
- The Medicare hospice benefit was enacted by congress in 1982 and provides payment for hospice services.
- Hospice services save money for Medicare while providing high quality care.
- In 2006 there were 400,000 volunteers in hospice.
- The average volunteer devotes 41 hours of their time over the course of a year.
- Four out of five patients are 65 or older, 33% are 85 or older.
Comfort Care Makes a Difference: A Guide for Hospice Services
Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley
Dying Well and The Four Things That Matter Most, both by Ira Byock
Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings both my Rachel Naomi Remen
How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Peter McWilliams
Compassion Books is an excellent source for books on death and dying, grief and recovery from loss.
www.compassionbooks.com or call 1-800-970-4220.
www.growthhouse.org – Large online resource with both links and book lists.
www.caringinfo.org – A site by the National Hospice and Palliative care Organization.
www.agingwithdignity.org – Source of the excellent “Five Wishes” living will.
www.limbertwig.org for more links, books and information.