Understanding the unique services offered by hospice providers is vital for patients and families to get the support they need. Hospice isn’t giving up, but instead enhances the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses. What are the core services provided by hospice and how does the patient benefit? 

Qualifying for Hospice

First, patients must meet certain qualifications to be eligible for hospice benefits. This includes: 1) Two physicians certify a patient has a life expectancy of six months or less. 2) The patient accepts comfort care (palliative care) instead of care to cure the illness. Hospice benefits, from comfort care to needed equipment, are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, VA and many private insurance companies. Read more on hospice eligibility and coverage.

Hospice providers like Heart to Heart Hospice provide compassionate care for patients with a wide range of life-limiting, terminal illnesses, including but not limited to, cancer, heart disease, stroke and coma, lung disease, kidney disease, liver disease, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, accident injury and AIDS.

What Hospice is Not

Hospice offers many beneficial services, but does not provide around-the-clock nursing care or caregiving for a patient. A range of hospice professionals, from nurses to aides to spiritual care coordinators to social workers, visit patients regularly, monitor changes, provide care and equip in-home caregivers. For a medical crisis or other patient needs, read about the different levels of care during hospice.

Hospice is not a path to a cure, but a patient-centered approach to dealing with pain and symptoms through palliative (or comfort) care, as well as emotional and psychosocial issues, in the final months of a patient’s life. Hospice is not a location, such as a hospital or hospice care facility. Hospice takes place wherever the patient calls home, whether it’s a private residence, nursing home or other residential facility. One common goal of hospice is to fulfill a patient’s desire to die at home, surrounded by the people and things they love. Read more Myths and Facts About Hospice.

What’s Hospice Do? Core Services

Patients and their families, along with the hospice provider, develop a personalized care plan that outlines the patient’s needs and wishes. This ranges from treating pain and alleviating physical symptoms to assisting with daily activities, like bathing and wound care, to helping patients achieve a “good death” through practical and relational assistance, even helping fulfill bucket-list items like one final vacation. Hospice is about “living” as fully as possible until one’s last breath. It includes making memories for the loved ones and can even include joy.

Core hospice services include:

  • Managing the patient’s pain and symptoms.
  • Providing needed comfort medications, medical supplies, and equipment.
  • Maintaining the patient’s comfort, including regular assessments and support for their loved ones.
  • Assisting patients with personal care and activities of daily living.
  • Educating families on how to properly care for patients.
  • Delivering therapy services, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as needed.
  • Meeting emotional, spiritual, and practical needs for patients and families with questions or concerns at the end of life (including legal documents, funeral resources, and grief support).
  • 24-hour support via an on-call nurse’s line, and after-hours visits when needed.
  • Providing companionship and supportive community resources.
  • Offering bereavement services and counseling for families dealing with grief.

If you want to learn more about the different levels of hospice care for yourself or a family member, find a Heart to Heart Hospice location near you (available across most of Michigan, Texas or Indiana) or refer a loved one to our services.