Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for hospice?
A patient is eligible for hospice if their doctor and the hospice medical director determine that they have a life expectancy of six months or less, if the disease were to run its normal course.
Are there warning signs we should be watching for?
Some or all of the following symptoms could be exhibited by a hospice appropriate patient: frequent urination, progressive weight loss, deteriorating mental abilities, recurrent infections, or an overall decline in condition.
When is it time?
Now is the best time to begin learning more about hospice care and to ask questions. This can help greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice becomes apparent.

The first thing to remember when considering your end-of-life care plans is that choosing hospice does not mean giving up. It is a choice to shift the focus of care from curative treatment to comfort care.

Who pays for hospice care?
The Medicare Hospice Benefit is covered under Medicare Part A. This benefit covers all aspects of hospice care with little to no out-of-pocket expense to the family. Hospice is also covered by Medicaid and private insurance.
If you are in hospice, does everyone give up on you?
To the contrary, if you are in hospice, you can get more attention and care in your own home than ever before. Although there is nothing we can do to change the progress of the disease, hospice never gives up on the person.
Once you are in Hospice, can get out of it?
Hospice is completely revocable so if you change your mind, or are displeased with hospice care, you may revoke (or stop) hospice care at any time with no hard feelings. If your condition improves or you become a candidate for curative treatments again, hospice may discharge you until you need hospice care again.
When you are in hospice can you still go to the doctor?
You may continue to see your primary physician as long as you are able to get there. This physician can make home visits if time permits them. If you are on Medicare or Medicaid, you are required to get permission from Hospice to see any other specialist (besides the primary physician) for your terminal condition.
Does Hospice staff talk about death and dying all the time?
Although hospice staff members are comfortable discussing death and dying, we let you talk about whatever is important to you. We encourage patients to live fully one day at a time, and to discuss whatever feelings and situations they want to discuss. We appreciate silence.
Does Hospice only give emotional support?

Hospice gives palliative treatment for the terminal illness. This treatment is symptom control, pain control, oxygen, medications, wound care and any other care ordered by the physician to keep the patient comfortable.

If you are in hospice can you get any treatments or care for ANY illness or condition?
If you get a cold, flu, or have an accident of any kind, you will be able to get full medical treatment with expected recovery from them. If you have a co-existing illness (such as diabetes) along with the terminal diagnosis, you can get complete curative treatments for this condition while getting hospice care for the terminal illness.
Does the hospice social worker sign you up for welfare?
If you have major financial limitations, the social worker may assist you in applying for public benefits, but she will not sign you up for welfare.
What does the Hospice social workers assist you with?
The main purpose of the social worker’s visit is to assess the emotional and social needs of the patient and family caregivers, and help them identify options for problem solving. Also, many times the patient or caregiver finds it beneficial to openly discuss their feelings, fears, etc. with someone who is not as directly involved in their care as a family member is. Social workers are active listeners. Anything said to them is confidential.
Will the certified nurse aides clean your whole house for you?
Certified nurse aides provide personal care such as bathing, shaving, oral care, nail care and changing bed sheets, but housecleaning services are not a part of their job. They will provide training for caregivers to safely move, turn, transfer and care for the patient.
Will the Hospice chaplains push their religion on you?

The hospice chaplain’s goal is for the patient and family to be spiritually peaceful in however they define it. The hospice chaplain will not push any kind of religious preference on our patients and families, and will try to help the patient connect with his or her own religion of choice if possible.

What role does the hospice chaplain play?
Families who are going through major life crises often have questions or concerns that disturb their spiritual base. These questions are often best answered by a chaplain who deals with these types of crises daily. Our chaplain does not replace your personal minister, but is often a welcome addition to the families’ own pastor.
Will Medicare only allow patients to have 6 months of hospice care?
The Medicare benefit is divided into sections or benefit periods. This is so that the hospice team and your physician can re-evaluate your need for hospice care. Care can be extended past 6 months if a person’s health continues to get worse or the physician believes he or she still has 6 months or less to live.
Will hospice help you commit suicide?
Hospice will not help you commit suicide or administer any type of lethal treatment or injection. Hospice staff members are trained in talking with you about your concerns and fears, but we are committed to providing the support and the care to allow a peaceful natural death to occur.
Does hospice pay for all your medicines and your families’ medicines?
Hospice pays only for medications related to the terminal illness, and to keeping the patient comfortable. We do not supervise or provide medical care to our patient’s families. If you have private insurance, it may continue to pay for your other medications as before.
Do you have to stay at home if you are in Hospice?
There is no homebound rule for hospice patients. They are encouraged to travel outside the home as much as they are able. If you have an emergency unrelated to the hospice terminal diagnosis, you will have regular medical benefits for hospitalizations. If you think you need to go to the hospital for symptom control related to your terminal condition, YOU MUST CALL THE HOSPICE NURSE TO ARRANGE IT. Short-term hospitalizations are available under the hospice Medicare benefit.
Is hospice an all-volunteer agency?
Volunteers are an important part of our hospice services. Volunteers can provide services such as running errands or sitting and visiting with the patient. The staff members providing professional services, including the chaplain, are all paid staff.
Will the hospice nurses give 24 hour care and administer all your medicine?
Hospice nurses are on call 24 hours a day and can provide care in an emergency situation. The Primary Caregiver is responsible for providing or obtaining 24-hour care for a patient if it is needed. Volunteers cannot administer medication, and staff does not make visits to give routine medications.
Is hospice available if you are in a nursing home?
Hospice can provide the same services to nursing home patients as they do for others. Medicare, Medicaid and some private insurance will pay for routine hospice care to patients with a terminal diagnosis who happen to reside in a nursing home.

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10 Myths About Hospice

Hospice is comprehensive care by a team of experts that allows patients and their families to focus on living as fully as possible. Over 1.5 million dying Americans were served by hospice providers across the nation, yet there are many truths to be learned about what hospice care is.

Myth: Hospice is where you go when there is nothing more a doctor can do.
Fact: Hospice is not a place but a philosophy of care providing medical, emotional, and spiritual care focusing on comfort and quality of life.

Myth: Hospice is only for the last days of life.
Fact: Hospice patients and families can receive care for six months or longer, depending on the course of the illness. Hospice care is most beneficial when there is sufficient time to manage symptoms and establish a trusting relationship.

Myth: Choosing hospice means giving up hope.
Fact: Hospice provides comfort and quality of life when the hope for cure is no longer possible. The hope for living each day to the fullest becomes the focus.

Myth: Good care at end of life is very expensive.
Fact: Medicare beneficiaries pay little or nothing for hospice. Most insurance plans, HMOs and managed care plans include hospice coverage. Circle of Life has programs to care for indigent and uninsured patients.

Myth: You can’t keep your own doctor if you enter hospice.
Fact: Hospice physicians work closely with your doctor to determine a plan of care.

Myth: Choosing hospice means giving up all medical treatment.
Fact: The reality is that hospice places the patient and family at the center of the care-planning process and provides high-quality pain management and symptom control.

Myth: Hospice only cares for patients in their homes.
Fact: Most patients choose to die at home surrounded by their loved ones. Circle of Life cares for patients wherever they call home, including long-term skilled nursing and assisted living facilities or in one of our hospice homes.

Myth: Hospice is just for the elderly.
Fact: Hospice serves anyone facing a life-limiting illness, regardless of age.

Myth: Families are not able to care for people with terminal illnesses.
Fact: Hospice involves families and offers professional support and training to help them care for their loved ones.

Myth: Hospice care starts when someone is close to dying and ends at death.
Fact: The focus of hospice care starts at the time of diagnosis or acute phase of the terminal illness and extends beyond the patient’s death to the family during bereavement. The Circle of Life Grief Center is open to anyone in the community whether their loss is a hospice death or not.