Hospice provides care, comfort and support for persons with incurable disease where medical care cannot offer a cure, but where managing symptoms makes sense. Persons with life-limiting illness are allowed to be cared for in the comfort of their residence with hospice physicians, skilled nursing, certified personal caregivers referred to as CHHAs, social workers, spiritual counselors and trained volunteers. The goal of hospice is to keep the patient as pain and symptom-free as possible while offering support from the hospice team. It is a journey where there is a family-centered team approach with the patient being at the focal point in providing optimal care focusing on their needs. Hospice services are provided for the entire length of the natural progression of the patient’s disease.
Who Pays for Hospice?
There is NO COST to the patient or family because the Hospice Benefit is covered under Medicare Part A and Medi-Cal.
This allows the patient to choose their preferred hospice agency regardless of the type of insurance patient has at time of enrollment into hospice. Patients do not have to utilize a hospice agency connected with their insurance or HMO. The Choice is YOURS.
History of Hospice Care:
The term “hospice” (from the same linguistic root as “hospitality”) can be traced back to medieval times when it referred to a place of shelter and rest for weary or ill travelers on a long journey. A physician named Dame Cicely Saunders, who began her work in 1948 and eventually went on to create the first modern hospice—St. Christopher’s Hospice—in a residential suburb of London.
Saunders introduced the idea of specialized care for those with a life-limiting illness where a cure to reverse the disease is no longer available, but where symptom management and comfort, is essential. In 1963 during a visit to Yale University, she presented to medical students, nurses, social workers, and chaplains about the concept of holistic hospice care showing the dramatic differences before and after the symptom control care. This lecture resulted in the development of hospice care as we know it today.
Source: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
When to Begin Hospice?
Now is the best time to learn more about hospice and ask questions about what to expect from hospice services. Although end-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, it is best for family members to share their wishes as this can reduce stress and allows patients and families to make educated decisions.
How to Begin Hospice?
Typically, hospice care starts as soon as a formal request or a ‘referral’ is made by the patient’s doctor. Referrals to begin conversations with the physician may also come from the patients themselves, family members, friends and other health care professionals. Often a hospice program representative will then make an effort to visit the patient within 48 hours of that referral. However, in urgent situations, hospice services may begin sooner.
How long can a patient have hospice services?
A person who is on hospice, will continue to be on the service for the entire length that their condition remains.