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  • What is hospice care?
    Hospice care is a type of healthcare service provided to terminally ill patients who have a limited life expectancy and who wish to receive comfort care rather than curative treatment for their illness.
  • Who is eligible for hospice services?
    Hospice care is provided to terminally ill patients who have a limited life expectancy and who wish to receive comfort care rather than curative treatment for their illness.
  • Who pays for hospice care?
    Medicare or Medi-Cal pay for hospice care. Most medical insurances and health maintenance organizations offer hospice care as a benefit. There is no out-of-pocket cost to the patient/family under the Medicare/Medi-Cal hospice benefit.
  • How does hospice care begin?
    Typically, hospice care starts as soon as a formal request or a ‘referral’ is made by the patient’s doctor. Often a hospice program representative will make an effort to visit the patient within 48 hours of that referral, providing the visit meets the needs and schedule of the patient and family/primary caregiver. Usually, hospice care is ready to begin within a day or two of the referral. However, in urgent situations, hospice services may begin sooner.
  • Who will be involved in providing hospice services?
    Hospice services are coordinated and delivered by a team of healthcare professionals of various disciplines, including physicians, registered nurses, social workers, home health aides, spiritual counselors, therapists, dietitians, and volunteers. This team is known as the “interdisciplinary team.” The interdisciplinary team customizes a plan of care which aims to manage the patient’s pain and meet the patient’s and family’s needs.
  • Can my family be involved in hospice care?
    Family members are encouraged to participate in the patient’s care as much as possible. Hospice views the patient and family as the unit of care. If the patient has no family members to assist in caregiving, hospice will work with a caregiver or willing friends or neighbors of the patient.
  • Can the primary physician work with the hospice team?
    Yes. Most primary physicians continue to plan most of the patient’s care in coordination with the hospice team and the hospice physician.
  • Will hospice provide medicines?
    Medications necessary for pain relief and symptom management related to the terminal illness are provided by hospice.
  • Will hospice provide medical supplies and equipment?
    Medical supplies (e.g., diapers, chux, gloves), and medical equipment (e.g., hospital bed, wheelchair, oxygen) necessary for pain relief and symptom management related to the terminal illness are provided by hospice.
  • Can hospice care be discontinued?
    A patient can discontinue hospice services at any time.
  • Is hospice available after hours?
    Hospice care is available ‘on-call’ after the administrative office has closed, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Most hospices have nurses available to respond to a call for help within minutes, if necessary. Some hospice programs have chaplains and social workers on call as well.
  • Can a patient be cared for by hospice if he or she resides in a nursing facility or other type of 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 other care and services provided by the nursing facility. The hospice and the nursing home will have a written agreement in place in order for the hospice to serve residents of the facility.
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