When is it time to consider hospice care as an option?

Hospice care may be considered for anyone whom doctors believe to have a life expectancy of less than six months. Usually at this point, active treatment aimed at recovery stops, and hospice care is initiated. Hospice care focuses on producing the best possible quality of life in the patient’s remaining time.
HOPE® Program

Hospice eligibility and Medicare

To be eligible to elect hospice care under Medicare, an individual must:

  • Be entitled to Part A of Medicare
  • Be certified as terminally ill by a physician
  • Have a prognosis of 6 months or less if the disease runs its normal course

The most common of these diseases or conditions of hospice patients include ALS, cancer, dementia, heart disease, HIV, kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and coma. For more information, please visit medicare.gov/coverage/hospice-care.

“When my late husband passed, we used Science Care through a referral of the hospice facility. They were so wonderful in my time of grief, and knowing his body was going to help others made me want to become a part of it when my time comes as well.”
— Susan H., Florida

What types of services are provided by a hospice organization?

If you qualify for hospice care, you and your family will work with the hospice team to set up a plan of care that meets your needs. All hospices must provide certain services, but each will have a different approach to how these services are offered. So it’s important to do a thorough interview with a few different hospice organizations, and choose the one that meets your needs. The following are the types of services typically offered through hospice:

Pain Management

The goal of pain management is to help you feel comfortable while allowing you to stay in control of and enjoy your life. Discomfort, pain, and side effects are managed to make sure that you are as free of pain and symptoms as possible.

Counseling and Support

To help you and your family with psychological, emotional, and spiritual issues.

Inpatient Care

Most hospice care is centered in the home, however there may be occasions when you need to be temporarily admitted to a hospital, extended-care facility, or an inpatient hospice center. Your hospice organization will make all of the arrangements and help you through the process.

Spiritual Care

Since people differ in their spiritual needs and religious beliefs, spiritual care is set up to meet your specific needs. Hospice chaplains can provide support and an objective, listening presence as one considers questions about the purpose of life, suffering, need for forgiveness, and the progressive losses that accompany a serious illness.

Family Informational Meetings

Hospice may schedule regular family meetings usually led by the hospice nurse or social worker to keep family members informed about your condition and what to expect.

Coordination of Care Services

The hospice team coordinates and supervises all care. This team is responsible for making sure that all involved service providers share information in order to provide the most effective care. This may include the coordination of information between doctors, pharmacists, the inpatient facility, the home care agency, clergy, and funeral directors.

Respite Care

For patients being cared for in their homes, respite care may be offered to allow friends and family some time away from caregiving. Respite care is usually given in the hospice facility or in beds that are set aside in nursing homes or hospitals.

Bereavement Care

The hospice care team usually consisting of a trained volunteer, clergy member, or professional counselor will work with loved ones to help them through the grieving process.