Hospice Q and A

JHACO_GoldSealQuestions and Answers about Hospice

A lot of the fears associated with hospice care are the result of misunderstandings or incorrect assumptions. Providence understands the emotions surrounding a hospice decision. The questions listed below are very common. We hope the answers we’ve provided will help address your concerns and relieve your fears. If you have a question we haven’t answered below, or if you’d like more information, feel free to email hospice@provlife.com. A sensitive, knowledgeable staff member will reply directly.

Does choosing hospice mean I’m giving up hope?

It may be more accurate to say that Hospice is about redefining hope. You may hope to be pain-free, or to see an old friend one more time, or to stay at home rather than going to a hospital. Your Providence Hospice team can help you achieve those hopes and focus on making the most of the life that remains.

What is the difference between hospice care and palliative care?

“Hospice” is really a more general term that refers to the care and resources that are available through the Hospice Benefit. The Hospice Benefit can include palliative care, but palliative care is also available to people who are not on hospice. Palliative care is also known as “comfort care,” because the goal is to make a patient more comfortable. A cancer patient, for example, might receive palliative care while she is undergoing chemo or other treatments. The palliative care is not intended to cure the cancer; it is intended to relieve the symptoms of the treatments. If this same patient decided to discontinue treatment and go on hospice, she could continue to receive palliative care. In this case, the goal of the palliative care would simply be to make her as comfortable as possible. Providence Hospice does offer palliative care.

Is hospice only for cancer patients?

It’s true that cancer is a leading cause of death, and many cancer patients do choose hospice care after treatments have failed. But many other terminal diagnoses can benefit from hospice care. Providence Hospice clients have included people with heart disease, lung disease, dementia, kidney disease, and liver disease.

Does hospice require Medicare or Medicaid?

Hospice is most often used with Medicare or Medicaid, however most private insurance companies also have a hospice benefit. In Illinois and Indiana both Medicare and Medicaid include a Hospice Benefit that covers all costs related to the hospice diagnosis — the hospice team, durable medical equipment, medical supplies, and medications. The social workers at Providence Hospice know how to access those benefits.

Does my doctor decide what Hospice program I will use?

In order to receive hospice care, you must have a physician’s order that certifies your terminal diagnosis, but you have the right to choose the hospice you feel most comfortable with. Providence Hospice is licensed in both Indiana and Illinois.

What makes Providence Hospice different from the other companies?

Certain services are common to all licensed hospice programs, but operating styles and care philosophies may vary. Providence Hospice is a mission-based organization, and that impacts the way we deliver care and interact with family members. Our hospice team provides care for the patient, but also comfort and support for the whole family. This is our calling and our mission.

How long can someone be on hospice?

Only God knows when someone’s time is up. We wants to join with you on this journey, for however long that may be. Days, weeks, months, a year? As long as you need it. To qualify for services, a person needs to be terminal, with an illness that has a life expectancy of 6 months or less. We can’t predict when someone will pass, so many people are on hospice for longer than six months. As long as you or your loved one are terminal and appropriate, you can stay under hospice services for an indefinite amount of time and it is covered by Medicare.

Will hospice provide 24/7 care? Will insurance provide 24/7 care?

Medicare (or other insurance) covers hospice care. That involves supplies, medications, and hospice staff visits. It is not 24/7 care. No insurance can provide 24/7 caregivers*, except Medicaid which will provide it only in a nursing home. Insurance needs to be able to assess the situation and quality of care they pay for. Since they cannot enter your private home to do so, they cannot pay for private caregivers there. Medicaid can and does assess nursing homes regularly, which is why if you need 24/7 care and can’t afford it, Medicaid in a nursing home is the only option that an insurance program provides. All other 24/7 care options are out of pocket cost.

Hospice is available 24/7 for any issues, concerns, or if a visit is needed via our 1-800 phone number.

*There are some long term care insurance policies that can be bought separately that will pay a portion of funds towards 24/7 care, in home or nursing home, but these are special policies that have to be paid into for years and do not cover the entire bill.

What can a volunteer do for the patient?

Volunteers offer friendly visits or respite help. They can chat with patients to help relieve loneliness, they can read to patients, play music, or games. Volunteers are excellent advocates for patients helping to report patient needs. Also, volunteers may be able to stay with a private home patient 2-3 hours while the family caregiver goes out to run errands or to their own appointments or to just get a break. Please note volunteers cannot do any hands on care.

Do you have to have a DNR to be on hospice?

You do not. However, we do educate on why the DNR is so important with a terminal illness. A DNR states if you were to pass away (no heart beat and no pulse) you want to be resuscitated (attempt to be brought back to life via CPR). If you have a terminal illness, to bring you back with CPR would not change the fact that you are dying of a terminal illness. CPR is uncomfortable, and can result in ending up on life support and machines. Our goal with hospice is to allow a natural peaceful death. What is hospice?

Hospice is knowing that you have a terminal illness and still choosing to LIVE. Choosing to graciously allow our team to serve you and your family during this time, by enhancing your life to the fullest, while guiding you with compassionate education and support down paths you’re unfamiliar with.

No one knows when someone’s time is up. We want to join with you on this journey, for however long that may be. Days, weeks, months, a year? Our mission is to be with you throughout hospice because this is what we love to do. There is no better privilege than to care for those we love during this time. We’d love to meet with you or your family to answer any questions you have.

If you’re ready to get more information about hospice care from Providence Hospice in Illinois or Indiana: