There are many misconceptions about hospice. We want you to know the facts about hospice care and all the benefits it provides for patients and their families.
Myth: Hospice is a place.
Fact: Hospice care is a service that can be provided anywhere the patient calls home. Our trained, compassionate team develops a care plan that helps manage pain and control symptoms associated with a life-limiting illness.
Myth: Hospice is only for those in the last days of life.
Fact: Choosing hospice does NOT mean death is imminent. The earlier a person begins receiving hospice care, the better the opportunity to stabilize their medical condition and address emotional and spiritual needs. Studies show hospice patients may even live longer, with more quality of life in a pain-free environment, knowing their loved ones are also being supported.
Myth: Only cancer patients are eligible for hospice.
Fact: Hospice is available for anyone with a terminal illness that has a six-month or less life expectancy, should the disease run its normal course. We care for patients with cardiac issues, dementia, chronic lung disease, and cancer, as well as other conditions.other conditions
Myth: Patients can only receive hospice for a limited amount of time.
Fact: Patients are eligible to receive hospice care for as long as they continue to meet the necessary criteria. They may come on and off hospice care, re-enrolling as needed.
Myth: Hospice is not covered by insurance.
Fact: Hospice is fully covered through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, with no out-of-pocket expenses for patients who meet the eligibility requirements. Hospice is also covered through VA benefits and most Medicaid and private insurers.
Myth: The hospice care team is not always available to patients and families.
Fact: Members of the Heart to Heart Hospice care team visit patients several times a week and on-call nursing is available 24 hours/7 days a week for support. When close attention is needed during a medical crisis, Continuous Home Hospice Care may be provided, which can include 24-hour care.
Myth: To be eligible for hospice care, a patient must be bedridden.
Fact: Hospice care is appropriate at the time of the terminal prognosis, regardless of the patient’s physical condition.
Myth: All hospice programs are the same.
Fact: All accredited hospice programs are required to meet certain standards; however, some are set apart by their philosophy of care, level of support services and quality care team. We believe compassionate care encompasses body, mind and spirit, and our services are designed to offer comfort, provide control and preserve dignity for the patient and their family members.
Myth: A physician decides whether a patient should receive hospice care and which agency should provide that care.
Fact: The role of the physician is to recommend and oversee care, and to certify and re-certify medical eligibility, if the patient remains on hospice. It is the patient’s right to determine if they want hospice care and to choose which hospice program meets their needs.
Myth: Once a patient is on hospice, they cannot continue with their primary care physician.
Fact: We encourage the continuation of the attending physician/patient relationship and work closely with our patients’ primary care physicians.
Myth: Once patients choose hospice care, they may not return to traditional medical treatment.
Fact: Patients have the right, at any time, to stop hospice care and reinstate traditional care.
Myth: Hospice means giving up hope.
Fact: Hospice care is designed to help manage pain, ease fears, reduce stress and create positive memories. Hospice helps patients understand that even though their life’s journey may be ending, opportunities still abound to reminisce, laugh and be reunited with loved ones.
Myths about Medications
Myth: When hospice comes in, they discontinue all the patient’s medications and start them on morphine.
Fact: The hospice team will review a patient’s current medications to ensure they are safe from potential adverse effects or drug interactions and are effective in managing the patient’s current needs. The team may make recommendations to improve symptom relief and comfort. Medications are tailored to meet each patient’s specific needs and goals of care.
Morphine is used only when necessary. Morphine prescribed appropriately for a hospice patient is a safe and effective drug to control pain, as well as shortness of breath; it does not hasten death.
Hospice physicians and nurses are specially trained in the use of morphine and administer only the dose necessary to alleviate a patient’s pain or help them breathe. Morphine helps terminally ill patients enjoy a better quality of life at the end of life.
Management of symptoms may occur using medication but can also include non-pharmacological methods. Heart to Heart Hospice provides symptom management that is individualized to the patient’s goals of care and is most effective in managing symptoms.