Compassionate Care for the Mind, Body and Spirit

The concept of hospice as a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to end-of-life care began in Great Britain during the 1960s. The Medicare Hospice Benefit was passed in the United States in 1982, and has served as the basis of the hospice model of care in the U.S. and as a model for Medicaid and private insurance provision and reimbursement.

Hospice care is one form of palliative care with the goal to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. Hospice care is appropriate when there is a life expectancy of six months or less. When curative treatments are no longer working and/or a patient no longer desires to continue them, hospice becomes the care of choice. Traditional palliative care, on the other hand, can be given at any time during the course of an illness and in conjunction with curative and aggressive treatments.

The mission of hospice is to affirm life and view death as a natural process. Hospice is not designed to hasten death or “help” someone die, but rather to help patients live the remainder of their lives as fully as possible. Most people, if asked, will say they dream of a peaceful, comfortable death surrounded by their loved ones. An interdisciplinary team of trained professionals work together to deliver hospice services that can make that dream a reality.

What Is Special About Hospice Care?

Hospice care helps people live their lives to the fullest extent possible. We do this by relieving physical pain and other discomfort, and by providing emotional support to patients and their loves ones. Hospice care enables people to stay at home as well as continue their daily routines and favorite activities for as long as possible.

Most importantly, hospice care emphasizes each person’s choice to decide their plan of care and to provide information to support patients and families in making well-informed decisions. The patient and the family work with the hospice team to determine the help that is needed. Our care and services recognize the integrity and value of each family’s lifestyle, traditions, cultural and spiritual beliefs.

Who Is Eligible For Hospice Care?

  • Those living with an advanced life-limiting illness and are considering a transition in the focus of care from cure to comfort and symptom control.
  • Hospice services are designed to assist people living with a variety of illnesses and conditions, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, Alzheimer’s disease, neurological disease, AIDS and others.

How Is Hospice Paid?

Medicare and Medicaid include a benefit that covers hospice services. Most private insurance provides coverage for hospice care. Some patients may use their own financial resources to pay the cost of hospice.

Contributions may be made to assist in the provision of hospice care for those patients who have no available source of payment and do not qualify for financial assistance.

Where Is Hospice Care Provided?

Hospice is not a place. Rather it is a philosophy of care that can be provided wherever a patient/family may choose: home, a long term care or assisted living facility, or in an inpatient hospice facility. Some of our patients will move between home and the inpatient facility if they need care that cannot be provided at home.

When Is It Time To Begin Conversation With Patients And Families About Hospice?

At any time, after the diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, it is appropriate to discuss care options with the patient’s doctor, including hospice.

The discussion becomes even more important if any of the following circumstances are present:

  • Patient is no longer responding as expected or anticipated to the treatments for the disease.
  • Patient is expressing concern that the burden of treatment is outweighing the benefits.
  • Patient is experiencing persistent difficulty with pain and symptom control.
  • Patient is despondent about his/her condition and quality of life, and it is unlikely to improve.