What Is Hospice

Hospice care is specialized care designed to provide support to you and your loved ones during an advanced illness. Hospice care focuses on comfort and quality of life, rather than cure. Through symptom management, the goal of hospice care is to enable you to have an alert, pain-free life, to live each day as fully as possible. Hospice care affirms life and views death as a natural occurrence.

Resolutions Hospice is there for you, providing compassionate care and knowledgeable guidance every step of your journey. Experienced physicians, nurses, certified nursing aides, social workers, chaplains and volunteers offer personalized choices for how you can receive care, up-to-date approaches to pain and symptom management, and peace of mind to help you live better with your illness.

Care is provided in the home as well as inpatient facilities such as Assisted Living Facilities, Personal Care Homes and Skilled Nursing Homes. Our wish is for all our patients to live the remainder of their lives wherever they reside.

Hospice Services Included

  • Offer specialized pain and symptom management.
  • Provide needed medications, medical supplies and medical equipment.
  • Regular nursing visits to maintain the patient’s comfort, including regular assessments and support for the family.
  • Assist patients with personal care and activities of daily living.
  • Instruct families and caregivers on how to properly care for the patients.
  • Chaplains to provide support and help patients and families with spiritual or religious questions or concerns at the end of life.
  • Social workers to provide emotional support, supportive counseling, information and referral services, assistance with advanced directives, out of home placements, etc.
  • Volunteers to provide companionship, emotional support and life enhancing activities
    Bereavement services and counseling to help families deal with grief.
  • Access to Hospice Nurses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Levels of Care

  • Routine Home Care – Care in the home or care facility is provided by the hospice team through regularly scheduled visits which can be once a week to daily depending on the needs of the patient and family. (Most of our patients fall into this category)
  • Continuous Care – An intensive or crisis level of care can be provided to hospice patients when their symptoms cannot be managed at the routine level of care. Continuous Care is provided on a short term basis (1-5 days) to maintain the patient in their home or care facility. Nursing care is usually provided for 8-24 hours a day and some of the hours may be provided by a home health aide.
  • Inpatient Care – Inpatient care is provided for pain and symptom management at a participating hospital, long term care facility or specialized hospice inpatient unit. Short term inpatient care is provided for the patient for pain control and symptom management.
  • Respite Care – Respite Care is short term inpatient care provided to relieve those caring for the patient in their home. Care is normally provided in a contracted nursing home and, up to five consecutive days at a time.

Eligibility – Is Hospice right for me?

When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made and who should make it?

At any time during a life-limiting illness, it’s appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including hospice. By law the decision belongs to the patient or their surrogate decision maker. Most hospices accept patients who have a life-expectancy of six months or less and who are referred by a physician. The team at Resolutions Hospice is always available to discuss any questions or concerns you or your family may have regarding eligibility.

Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?

The Patients and families should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy or friends. Most physicians are fully informed about hospice. If your physician wants more information, Resolutions Hospice has staff available 24 hours a day to answer any questions that anyone may have. Additionally, they can arrange a consultation by calling the Resolutions Hospice (LINK TO CONTACT US).

What does the admission process for hospice involve?

One of the first things we will do is contact the patient’s physician to make sure they are in agreement that hospice care is appropriate for the patient at this time. The patient will also be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These forms are similar to what a patient may sign when entering a hospital. The Hospice Election Form states that the patient understands the care is for comfort, aimed at pain relief and symptom control rather than reaching a cure. It outlines the services available to the patient. The form Medicare patients sign tells how electing the Medicare Hospice Benefit affects other Medicare coverage for terminal illness.

Benefits for earlier admission:

Nearly all patients are able to receive hospice care as soon as their physician assesses that the patient has a terminal illness and that they most likely have six months or less to live. Hospice is not a crisis service for just the last few days of life. It is a program designed to care for the patient and family during the last months of life. An early hospice admission allows both patient and family to receive the full benefit of hospice services. Additionally, when pain and other symptoms are effectively controlled, people not only feel better, they have a potential to live longer.

For the Patient

  • Effective medication, pain and symptom management resulting in less discomfort and fewer emergency hospitalizations;
  • Earlier intervention may decrease stress levels, and have a positive impact on the quality of life;
  • A reduction in unnecessary and frequent re-admission to the hospital/ER visits;
  • A reduction in stress of traveling back and forth to the hospital or physician offices;
  • Help with focusing on developing personal goals before the end of life;
  • Preparation and coordination of advanced directives;
  • Emotional, psychological and spiritual support;

For the Patient and Family

  • Control of an overwhelming situation;
  • Ability to observe the loved one in a more comfortable state during a difficult time allowing each person to achieve peace with the pending death;
  • Provide an opportunity for closure and saying good-bye with everyone together;
  • Receive expert assistance and time to prepare for funeral and financial matters;
  • Save on expenses of medication, equipment and supplies related to the terminal prognosis.

Early Admission to hospice allows patients and families to build longer relationships and improve overall care for the body, mind and spirit. Many patients and caregivers said they would have liked to have been referred to hospice earlier.

How is hospice care paid for?

Hospice is paid for through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Medicaid Hospice Benefit, and most private insurers. If a person does not have coverage through Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance company, hospice will work with the person and their family to ensure needed services can be provided. We provide services to everyone in need regardless of their ability to pay.

Medicare Hospice Benefit

The Medicare Hospice Benefit is covered under Medicare Part A (hospital insurance). Medicare beneficiaries who choose hospice care receive a full scope of medical and support services for their life-limiting illness. Hospice care also supports the family and loved ones of the person through a variety of services. Medicare Hospice Benefit covers all of the care related to the terminal illness that is determined medically necessary by the hospice physician. If there is a medical condition that is not related to the terminal illness, the Medicare coverage prior to electing the hospice benefit will cover these illnesses.

Sometimes a person’s health improves or their illness goes into remission. If that happens, the hospice physician may feel that the individual no longer needs hospice care. If this happens, the patient will be discharged from hospice and return to the care and the Medicare coverage prior to electing the hospice benefit. The patient always have the right to stop receiving hospice care at any time and for any reason. If a patient stops hospice care, she or he will receive the type of Medicare coverage prior to electing hospice. If a patient is determined to be eligible, she or he can go back to hospice care at any time in the future.

Who is Eligible for Medicare Hospice Benefits?

You are eligible for Medicare hospice benefits when you meet all of the following conditions:

  • You are eligible for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance), and
  • Your doctor and the hospice medical director certify that you have a life-limiting illness and if the disease runs its normal course, death may be expected in six months or less, and
  • You sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of routine Medicare covered benefits for your illness, and
  • You receive care from a Medicare-approved hospice program.
  • *Medicare will still pay for covered benefits for any health needs that aren’t related to your life-limiting illness or related illnesses.

What hospice services does Medicare cover?

Medicare defines a set of hospice core services, which means that hospices are required to provide these set of services to each person they serve, regardless of the persons insurance.

Medicare covers these hospice services and pays nearly all of their costs:

  • Physician services
  • Nursing care
  • Home health aide and homemaker services
  • Social work services
  • Dietary counseling
  • Medical equipment (like wheelchairs or walkers)
  • Medical supplies (like bandages and catheters)
  • Medications for symptom control and pain relief
  • Short-term care in the hospital or skilled nursing facility for pain and symptom crisis management
  • Inpatient respite for caregiver relief
  • Short-term hourly care in the home for a pain and symptom crisis management
  • Grief support to help you and your family during and after hospice services
  • You will only have to pay part of the cost for outpatient drugs and inpatient respite care.

The Medicare Hospice Benefit Does Not Cover the Following:

Treatment intended to cure your illness

You will receive comfort care to help manage symptoms related to your terminal illness. Comfort care includes medications for symptom control and pain relief, physical care, counseling, and other hospice services.

Medications not directly related to your hospice illness or related illnesses are not covered under the Medicare Hospice Benefit

Hospice team members will consult with the hospice physician and will tell you and your family which drugs and/or medications are covered and which ones are not covered under the Medicare Hospice Benefit. The Hospice uses medicine, equipment, and supplies to make you as comfortable as possible. Under the hospice benefit, Medicare won’t pay for treatment where the goal is to cure your illness. You should talk with your doctor if you are thinking about potential treatment to cure your illness. You always have the right to stop at any time to seek curative care.

Care from Another provider When You Elect Your Hospice Benefit

All care that you receive for your terminal illness or related illnesses must be approved and provided by your hospice team. If you receive care for your terminal illness or related illnesses without hospice approval, you could be laible for the cost.

Nursing Home Room and Board

Room and board are not covered by the Medicare Hospice Benefit. You may receive hospice services wherever you live, even in a nursing home. However, the Medicare Hospice Benefit does not pay for nursing home room and board. The cost for room and board would be an out of pocket expense. Medicaid will cover room and board charges if you are eligible.

Hourly Care

Hospice care provided by the hospice team in the home is intermittent or visit based. You will receive visits by the hospice team based on you and your family’s needs. Hourly care is not covered under the Medicare Hospice Benefit. If hourly care is a necessity, you will need to pay out of pocket for this care or explore another care environment such as a nursing home which offers 24/7 care.