How to Prepare for Hospice
Are you or a loved one living with advanced, life-limiting illness? Do you want to know if or when hospice is the right option? You should discuss the idea with your attending physician or another clinician providing medical care. This may help you prepare for hospice care.
A physician must be the one to determine whether someone meets the medical eligibility requirements for hospice services. However, there is no rule against the patient, or a loved one addressing the subject. Some people have discussed hospice immediately after receiving a diagnosis. In this case, their physician knows they would be interested in learning more about hospice care at the appropriate time.
It is important to know that anyone – patient, loved ones or others involved in providing care – can make the first contact with a hospice. This step would help determine if the patient meets medical eligibility requirements.
Starting a Conversation about Hospice
As with any important decision, an open, honest discussion that isn’t occurring in the midst of a crisis can be helpful. If you plan a discussion with loved ones about your preferences regarding medical care should you become unable to make decisions for yourself – called an advance directive – HFA recommends expanding the discussion to include your preferences for end-of-life care.
Starting to Prepare for Hospice
When it is time to consider hospice as an option, give us a call. The first step is to request that we send a representative to meet with the patient and family/caregiver. This request may be made by the individual’s physician, the staff at an assisted living community, nursing home or hospital, or you can initiate a call to a hospice provider yourself. There is no charge for this visit, no obligation to choose us as your provider, and no pressure to make a choice immediately. This visit is simply to assess if this is the right time for you to begin hospice care.
What to expect during the introductory visit
When our representative meets with you, they will do the following:
- Discuss our hospice care services
- Discuss Medicare and insurance options
- Complete a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s condition
- Complete the admission into the hospice’s program
- We take all the time you need to answer your questions
Some hospices divide these tasks into separate visits. However, we like to complete this all on the first visit.
The admission process is complete when all required paperwork is signed by the patient or someone legally authorized to make such decisions on their behalf.
What to expect after admission
Individuals from our hospice care team will meet with the patient and loved ones to discuss goals, symptoms, services and expectations. In that case, a care plan is created to meet the patient’s unique needs. The care plan is the hospice team’s “playbook” and specifies such things as:
- How often the doctor, nurse, medical social worker, home health aide, chaplain and adult volunteer visit the patient
- Any other services needed
- Medications and a schedule
- Medical supplies and equipment that are required
The hospice team reviews each patient’s care plan regularly and may make changes as necessary to address changes in the patient’s needs.
What not to expect
Hospices offer access to a physician or nurse on any day at any time in an emergency. However, it is important to understand that hospice is not 24-hour care at the bedside. There are very few exceptions, in very specific circumstances where this may occur. In that case, it may only be for a very brief period.
Hospice care that is provided in hospitals, nursing homes and other residential facilities does not include room and board and is not a substitute for long-term care or adult day care.