Ask Our Experts-What is Hospice?

What is hospice?
Hospice is a philosophy of care for persons at the end of their lives. It is an approach to care focusing on the person as a whole being – their physical, emotional and spiritual beings. Everyone has a right to die with dignity in as much comfort as possible. Hospice can enhance a person’s quality of life.

Where and how is hospice care provided?
Hospice care is provided in a person’s home wherever home may be – private residence, assisted living facility, group home, skilled nursing facility. Those on hospice are cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, home health aides, volunteers, therapies and ancillary services.
Does hospice provide 24 hour care?
A hospice nurse is available by phone 24 hours a day. The nurses, social workers, home health aides and other hospice team members make routine visits to provide comfort care – physical, emotional and spiritual, teach how to give medications, transfer, turn and care for the hospice client. Families can privately hire for extended periods of care giving if needed. Bereavement support for the family continues for at least 12 months after the hospice client has dies.
Who pays for hospice?
Medicare, Medicaid, and most commercial insurances cover the cost of the hospice team visits, needed equipment, and medications related to the hospice diagnosis.
When is hospice care appropriate?
* Client and family wish additional comfort care and support
* Declining health and functional status with frequent hospitalizations
* Increased pain not well controlled with current medications
* Symptoms needing frequent interventions i.e. shortness of breath, infections, problems swallowing, nausea and vomiting
* Spouse and/or family member unable to provide care due to client’s declining health
Is hospice “giving up”?
To elect hospice is changing the treatment focus from curative to comfort care only. The hospice client will get their symptoms managed so they can live their last days to the fullest. If their condition stabilizes or improves and/or they choose a person can sign out of hospice. They can always sign in again at a later date when they may need hospice services again.
Do I need to wait until my doctor prescribes hospice?
Any one can bring up enrolling in hospice with their doctor but a doctor’s order is needed for hospice services to begin. The doctor and hospice staff will evaluate the client to make sure that he/she meets the hospice criteria for admission. Most hospice programs offer consultations to clients and their families to discuss the services offered and answer any questions the person and family may have.
How do I find out more information about hospice services and programs?
You can call the Minnesota Network of Hospice and Palliative Care (MNHPC) at (651) 659-0423 or visit the MNHPC website Nationally, call the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization at (800) 658-8898 or visit the NHPCO website
Submitted by Deb Lane, RN, CHPN
Community Liaison with Franciscan Health
Community/St. Mary’s Hospice

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