Frequently Asked Questions

With the increase in critical diseases, many patients die in hospitals receiving medicines and lab tests. Studies have found that most of the patients that are admitted for long don’t require those unwanted medicines and nursing to enjoy the remaining time. Rather, they require an environment they love, making sure they enjoy each moment.

There’s a type of care called ‘Hospice care’ which is concerned with the chronic illness victims. We call this, “final stage illness” where patients require something other than conventional medication.

The practice of Hospice has been used in Europe since the 11th century and is a useful way to provide patients with emotional and spiritual needs.

We’re going to cover some frequently asked questions regarding this:

What is hospice?

Already discussed, hospice is a special type of care where a chronically ill or final stage diseased patient is treated with emotional and spiritual needs. This has almost nothing to do with disease. Rather, it focuses on helping the patient enjoy the whole day like the way he wants.

What does it mean when someone is in hospice care?

HospiceAssist.com addresses this query effectively:

“In Hospice care, patients in the final stages of a terminal illness are supported by focusing on their comfort and quality of life, rather than a cure.”

So, in hospice care patients are not medicines consumers only. They are taken care with the activities they like making sure they spend quality time. This gives them relief from the pain they are experiencing. This is what it means to be in hospice care.

How long is a person on hospice?

About duration, hospice can be a complicated topic. But, hospice experts claim that it can increase life expectancy for about 6 months.

There can be exceptions in some cases while studies have found that hospice can generally increase life expectancy whether it is for days, weeks or months.

What is hospice care at home?

Hospice care is generally offered in hospital but it can be provided at home, too. At home, the faculty involves caregiver(s) which are family members close to the patient’s life and a professional team that guides the caregiver(s).

Hospice care at home is generally allowed for patients that are living at the final stage of illness and require enough comfort to forget the pain they receive.

Why do people go to hospice?

We already discussed that hospice is a philosophy of care that cares for patients with emotional and spiritual needs. Other than medicines, inner happiness or comfort comes through hospice. Hospice also increases life expectancy.

So, comfort and life expectancy are the reasons people go for hospice.

What are the four levels of hospice care?

Just like other treatment courses, hospice care has got care levels. These levels are defined according to the patient’s health situation:

  • Routine Home Care: Its a basic level of home care that involves a team of hospice experts helping the patient with medical social services, volunteer visits, spiritual support, bereavement counseling, equipment, and medication.
  • Continuous Home Care: In continuous home care, a nurse stays in your home or room for an extended period. This level is short-termed in case the health goes irregular. Irregular means experiencing severe pain or symptoms, shortness of breath, etc.
  • General Inpatient Care: When severe pain or other health crisis appear, general inpatient care is provided there. This level of care makes sure the pain strength is released and comfort is provided so that the patient can get back to their loved ones. A caregiver may be a family member or a loved one can stay with the patient to release the stress level with its presence.
  • Respite Care: In Respite Care, a caregiver (someone from family) is mandatory. In this level of hospice, nursing and hospital facility is given round the clock in the presence of a caregiver.

Does anyone survive hospice?

To qualify for hospice, two doctors must certify that the patient can’t live for more than six months. According to the studies made on hospice, only a few percents of patients survive hospice. Hospice focuses on comfort rather than cure. Thus, hospice is not a treatment to survive rather it is a type of care where patient is helped with comfort and family presence.

What are some signs that death is near?

There can be many signs for it depending on the disease a patient is experiencing. However here are some common signs to consider:

  • Decreasing appetite
  • More sleep
  • Dropping body temperature
  • Weakening muscles
  • Changing toilet habits
  • Changing vital signs
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Increasing pain
  • Experiencing Confusion

Do people know when they are dying?

Well, it can be a complex question to answer.

When a person is dying, their brain is sharply active. However, confusion might occur like they lose track of what’s going around. If a caretaker of the loved one is there, make sure he/she keeps talking to them.

How does a person feel when they are dying?

Several changes occur when someone is near to dying. Someone might lose their ability to know what’s going around, breathing becomes difficult, or extreme pain can be there. Apart from these, as it’s a natural process so it doesn’t mean the person is in distress or uncomfortable.

Can hospice come to your house?

Absolutely yes, the hospice team can come to your house for an extended time period regularly. Deciding whether to have hospice in your house or not depends on the consultant’s suggestion. Hospice service at home is effective in the fourth care level when a serious health crisis is observed.

However, you can have hospice at your house anytime.

What are the 10 signs of death?

Signs of death are actually dependent on the disease type. Some diseases don’t disturb the overall body parts and functioning but have the pain to end up a patient’s life.

Here are the 10 signs of death:

  • Extreme Pain
  • An exponential increase in sleeping time
  • Decreasing appetite
  • Muscle weakness
  • Experiencing confusion
  • Experiencing problems in memory
  • Urine decrease
  • Congestion
  • Body getting colder
  • Fever

Does hospice kill you?

Hospice won’t kill you or make you survive as it is far away from medication. It is not related to medication in any way, it has connections with comfort through loved ones’ presence and friendly care. This is a care philosophy to owe patients with better comfort so that he can enjoy his time. So, the answer may or may not be no as there may be exceptions for patient’s health.

What exactly does Hospice do?

Hospice care is a non-medication type of care that focuses on the quality of a patient’s life. Unlike medication which is used to fight illness or diseases, it offers compassionate care for the people with a serious health crisis. Several strategies are implemented to make sure patient enjoy the remaining time far from pain or stressful thoughts. The nursing staff or hospice team is there for the patients most of the time helping them with spiritual and emotional support.

So, hospice exactly makes the patient feel comfortable and caring even in a state of extreme pain.

Who pays for hospice care at home?

For hospice care at home, Medicare bears most of the expenses. Except these expenses:

  • Room charges
  • Emergency fees (ambulance and its rooms)
  • Treatment or medical prescription to cure illness

All other expenses are covered by medicare. So, hospice care expenses usually are paid by medicare itself if the service provider is Medicare-approved.

Is hospice just for the end of life care?

Here is the eligibility criteria for hospice:

  • The patient must be diagnosed with a serious health crisis
  • Written certification from at least two doctors that he or she has six months or less to live
  • Agrees to stop life-saving or potentially medication treatment

If the patient agrees to the above points, hospice service stays for the end of life. At the end of six months’ duration, a doctor must recertify that the patient can live up to six months to renew the hospice service. In this way, hospice can be an end of life care. If the patient doesn’t fall into the eligibility criteria, hospice is not applicable.

Does the hospice cost money?

We talked about it earlier that hospice is free if the provider is Medicare-approved. Almost all facilities from nursing to counseling, service provider bears the expenses.

There are some exceptions like emergency ambulance and room charges which are paid by the patient’s family itself. In general, hospice doesn’t cost money.

Hospice Service – A Detailed Guide

We’ve learned how beneficial hospice can be for a patient who is diagnosed with serious illness. Hospice has strong roots with spiritual and emotional philosophies. These philosophies are far away from conventional medication treatments and bless the patient with comfort to survive.

Who can be a part of the hospice team?

Here are some roles:

Executive Director:

The executive director strategically directs the authority towards the patient’s comfort. From family/community needs to all other business needs, ED is responsible.

Primary Physician:

A primary Physician is the patient’s private physician held responsible for the patient’s care for all time.

Clinical Director:

CD assures the management and coordination of the daily working schedule of nursing and physicians staff.

Medical Director:

The hospice team has a medical director who has multiple roles regarding patient care. He coordinates for referral of each patient and serves as a consultant to the nursing team and local physicians to make sure quality palliative care is given.

LPN:

This member is for hospice services at home. LPN provides comfort services, assisting with routine activities, and teaching.

RN Case Manager:

An RN Case manager designs the nursing care plan and looks for the continuity of proper patients’ care.

Caregiver:

A caregiver can be a part of the team in case of extreme level hospice. A caregiver is the one that is very near to the patient, maybe a family member or a friend who stays with the patient most of the time. In that time, continuous talk is observed in both and the patient feels comfortable sharing his ideas and thoughts.

Nursing Team:

There can be a nurse or a team depending on the situation the patient is going through. The team helps patients with his tasks like bathing, shaving skin, and writing letters to loved ones, etc.

Hospice Aide:

A Hospice Aide can be a nurse or steward who regularly assists patients with routine personal care including bathing, teeth care, shaving skin, washing hair, changing linens, and patient positioning.

Massage Therapist:

As the name suggests, a massage therapist provides massage therapy for comfort and muscle relaxation.

Volunteer:

Other than a family member (caregiver), the patient’s family chooses a close friend or neighbor to visit the patient regularly. From visit duration to making selection, everything is decided by the family.

Volunteer Coordinator:

As the name suggests, VC coordinates volunteers’ recruitment, training, and daily schedules. It also makes appropriate placements for all volunteer tasks.

Social Worker:

A social worker helps families in stressful times by sorting out plannings, insurance, and counseling.

Pharmacist:

A pharmacist is responsible for medication program needs and is experienced about medical treatments.

Bereavement Coordinator:

The Bereavement Coordinator helps grieving families and provides emotional support in the days after the patient’s death.

These roles are a part of the hospice team. From these, we can find out how beneficial it can be for patient’s comfort as a dedicated team is there to support through hard times.

Any Questions?

We’ve covered most common questions asked about hospice service and learned about the hospice team roles, too.

Still, if you’ve any questions regarding hospice; share with us in comments!

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