When it comes to making decisions about end-of-life care, it’s not easy. We’ve gathered the most common questions from patients and families we’ve had the privilege of serving and shared our responses below.
If you have any questions, we’d love to help.
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. Most hospices accept patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less and are referred by their personal physician.
One of our first steps is to contact the patient’s physician to make sure they agree that hospice care is appropriate for this patient. (Arizona Care Hospice has medical staff available to help patients who have no physician.) The patient will be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital. Medicare patients also sign a document that educates them on how electing the Medicare hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage.
No. Many communities have more than one hospice. Medicare requires certified hospices to provide a basic level of care, but the quantity and quality of all services can vary significantly from one hospice to another. This is one of the many reasons why our care is entirely patient-focused and we recognize the privilege we have in caring for you and/or your loved one.
The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy, or friends.
No. While some churches and religious groups have started hospices, Arizona Care Hospice does not require patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs.
Receiving Hospice Care
Yes! Our team is on call for emergencies 24 hours a day, though hospice care does not include a nurse in the home 24/7. If you or your loved one require additional care provided in the home, we can assist with helping the patient with residential care options.
In the early weeks of care, it’s usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. Later, however, since a common fear of patients is the fear of dying alone, we recommend someone be with the patient continuously. While family and friends do deliver most of the care, we may have volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time away for primary caregivers.
Usually not. The goal of hospice is to have the patient as pain-free and alert as possible. By constantly consulting with the patient, we have been very successful in reaching this goal.
Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during childbirth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.
Certainly. If the patient’s condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. If the discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private insurance will allow additional coverage for this purpose.
We provide continuing contact and support for caregivers for at least 13 months following the death of a loved one, including bereavement groups and support for anyone in the community who has experienced a death of a family member, a friend, or similar losses.
Home Hospice Care
Our hospice patients are cared for by a team that includes a physician, a nurse, social workers, counselors, hospice aides, clergy, therapists, and volunteers. Each one provides assistance based on their area of expertise. In addition, we provide medications, supplies, equipment, and other services related to the terminal illness.
Arizona Care Hospice will assess your needs, recommend any equipment, and make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the disease progresses. In general, we will assist in any way to make hospice care as convenient and safe as possible.
There’s no set number. One of the first steps our hospice team will take is to prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of caregiving needed by the patient. Our staff visit regularly and are always accessible to answer questions and provide support.
No. Hospice patients receive care in their personal residences. This may include a private home, assisted living home, group home, long-term care facility, or any other location you or your loved one calls home.
We believe that emotional and spiritual pain are authentic and require the same attention as physical pain. Hospice nurses and doctors are experts on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. In addition, our medical & clinical team are sometimes joined by specialists schooled in music therapy, art therapy, massage, and diet counseling. Finally, various counselors, including clergy, are available to assist family members and patients.
Very high. Using a combination of medications, counseling, and therapies, most patients can attain a level of comfort they consider acceptable.
Hospice coverage is widely available. It is covered by Medicare nationwide at 100%, by Medicaid in 47 states, and by most private insurance providers. To be sure of coverage, families should, of course, check with their employer or health insurance provider. We can assist you with this as well!
The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers the full scope of medical and support services for a life-limiting illness. Hospice care also supports the family and loved ones of the person through a variety of services. This benefit covers almost all aspects of hospice care with little expense to the patient or family.
In reviewing hospice eligibility, one of our first steps is to assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of.
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