Hospice FAQ

What is Hospice?
Who is Eligible?
Where is Hospice Care provided?
When is the right time to discuss Hospice Care?
How do I pay for Hospice?
Does the patient need to see a new doctor when receiving Hospice Care?
Is Hospice Care provided around the clock?
How does hospice care begin?
Will I be the only hospice patient that the hospice staff serves?
How does hospice work to keep the patient comfortable?
What is the hospice volunteer’s role?
Can I be cared for by hospice if I reside in a nursing facility or other long-term care facility?
What happens if I cannot stay at home due to my increasing care need, and require a different place to stay during my final phase of life?
Do state and federal reviewers inspect and evaluate hospices?
How can I be sure that quality hospice care is provided?

What is hospice?

Hospice is a form of care tailored specifically for the needs of individuals and families who are facing a life-limiting illness. A diverse medical care team works together to manage pain, increase comfort, and support every aspect of a patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual health. The goal of hospice care is to help people live their last days with respect, peace and dignity.

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Who is eligible for hospice care?

To be eligible for hospice care, a physician must certify that an individual has a terminal illness. Most patients and families choose hospice care when they want to focus on comfort measures and quality of life rather than futile medical treatments. We recommend speaking with the patient’s physician to discuss care options. If hospice care is appropriate, the physician will provide a referral to a hospice of your choice. Our staff is also available to speak with you about care options and to coordinate with the physician. If the patient does not have a physician, we can provide a referral. Click here for contact information.

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Where is hospice care provided?

For many, the most comfortable environment is home, and 95% of our hospice care is provided in patient homes. Hospice care can also be provided in an inpatient facility if that is more suitable for the patient and family.

Hospice of the Midwest serves patients in a number of different counties across the Midwest. Click here to view locations.

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When is the right time to discuss hospice care?

The decision to receive hospice care is usually made when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, or has decided to no longer receive treatment for an illness. However, we recommend discussing the possibility of hospice care well in advance. End-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, and it is best for ill family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern. Advanced planning helps patients make an educated decision that includes the input of family members and loved ones, and potentially avoiding stressful or uncomfortable situations.

Hospice of the Midwest can also be a resource for you. Our medical director, admission nurses, social workers and chaplains are available to answer your questions. Click here for contact information.

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How do I pay for hospice?

Most health plans cover hospice, including Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. Even if an individual doesn’t have insurance, Hospice of the Midwest’s services can still be an option. We will not turn away any patients who need comfort and care during the end stages of their lives.

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Do I need to see a new doctor when receiving hospice care?

No. Patients may keep their current physician, if they choose. Hospice of the Midwest has physician medical directors who will work closely with the patient’s primary care doctor. We want patients to feel as comfortable as possible, so we do our best to ensure they’re able to continue seeing the doctors they already know and trust.

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Is hospice care provided around the clock?

Hospice of the Midwest staff works closely with families to coordinate individualized care plans based on the patient’s needs. Our team of experts will schedule visits according to that plan. All medication, equipment, and supplies that are related to the hospice diagnosis are provided as needed. Our staff is available 24/7 to respond to emergencies, answer questions and offer support.

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How does hospice care begin?

Hospice care can begin as soon as the patient’s doctor makes a formal request or referral. A hospice program representative will then make an effort to visit the patient within 24 hours of that referral. Hospice of the Midwest works to schedule visits in accordance with the needs of the patient, family, and/or primary caregiver.

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Will I be the only hospice patient that the hospice staff serves?

Hospice of the Midwest has adequate staff to give all of our patients the care that they deserve. Every hospice patient has access to a physician, registered nurse, social worker, hospice aide, volunteer and chaplain (also known as the interdisciplinary team). The interdisciplinary team writes a care plan with the patient and family that addresses the goals of care, and strategies for meeting care needs. Our staff makes visits to the patient based on patient and family needs as described in the care plan, and the condition of the patient during the course of the illness. The level of care provided will change in accordance with the needs of the patient and family.

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How does hospice work to keep patients comfortable?

Many patients may have pain and other symptoms as their illness progresses. Hospice staff receives special training to care for all types of physical and emotional symptoms that cause pain, discomfort and distress. Since keeping the patient comfortable and pain-free is an important part of hospice care, many hospice programs have developed ways to measure the patient’s level of comfort during their hospice stay and respond appropriately. Hospice staff works with the patient’s physician to ensure that the right medications, therapies, and procedures are used to achieve the goals outlined in the patient’s care plan. The care plan is reviewed and updated frequently to reflect new goals and changes.

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What is the hospice volunteer’s role?

Hospice volunteers are available to provide support to patients and their loved ones. They may run errands, prepare light meals, stay with a patient to give family members a break, or lend emotional support and companionship to patients and family members. Since hospice volunteers spend time in patients’ and families’ homes, each hospice program has an application and interview process to ensure each volunteer is well suited for this type of work. Hospice programs also have an organized training program for their patient care volunteers. Areas covered by these training programs include understanding hospice care, maintaining confidentiality, listening skills, identifying signs and symptoms of approaching death, coping with loss, grief, and bereavement support.

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Can I be cared for by hospice if I reside in a nursing facility or other long-term care facility?

Hospice services can be provided to a terminally-ill person wherever they live. This means a patient living in a nursing facility or long-term care facility can receive specialized visits from hospice nurses, home health aides, chaplains, social workers, and volunteers, in addition to the care and services provided by the care facility. The hospice and the care facility must have a written agreement in place. Hospice of the Midwest has contracts with several facilities, allowing us to provide services to their residents.

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What happens if I cannot stay at home due to my increasing care need, and require a different place to stay while receiving hospice care?

Our social workers can help facilitate a transfer to another care facility to meet your needs. Care in these settings is not covered under the Medicare Benefit. Coverage may be possible for those eligible for Medicaid. It is best to find out well before a change may be needed if insurance or any other payer covers this type of care.

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Do state and federal reviewers inspect and evaluate hospices?

Yes. Hospice programs must meet state licensure requirements in order to provide care. In addition, hospices must comply with federal regulations in order to be approved for reimbursement under Medicare. Hospices must undergo periodic inspection to be sure they are meeting regulatory standards, and to maintain their operating license.

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How can I be sure that quality hospice care is provided?

Each individual and family deserves the highest quality of care, so choosing the right hospice is essential. It can be difficult to evaluate the differences between one hospice and another, since they may offer the same or similar services. However, there are several things you can evaluate to help with your decision.

Is the hospice Medicare certified?

Medicare mandates that hospices participating in the Medicare program meet their “Conditions of Participation.” These are a set of minimum requirements designed to ensure delivery of comprehensive, quality care. The hospice is surveyed periodically to certify that they are in compliance with all applicable regulations.

Is the hospice covered under my health plan?

It is important to determine if the hospice accepts your particular payer source. This may be Medicare, Medicaid, or a private insurance plan.

Is the hospice accredited?

There are several voluntary accreditation organizations that set a high level of quality standards for hospice programs. A hospice program may request to obtain accreditation from one of these organizations, and in doing so, must demonstrate compliance with the organization’s guidelines for excellence. These accrediting organizations require the hospice to submit extensive documentation and undergo an intensive survey process to ensure that standards are being met.

How did I feel when I talked to the hospice representative?

When you are looking for a hospice, it is a good idea to “shop around.” You may ask your friends or physician about their experiences with hospices. You may also call and ask for a phone interview with a hospice representative. The important thing is that you are comfortable with the hospice and feel that they are committed to taking care of your loved one.

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