Hospice Resources & FAQ
There is a wealth of information available about hospice and palliative care. We have provided the following links and resources to assist you.
Don't forget that Mercy Hospice staff is always available to discuss any concerns or answer any questions that you may have.
Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services: www.dads.state.tx.us/ Offers information and resources regarding long term care services and support to people who are aging and have physical disabilities and cognitive impairments. DADS licenses and regulates providers of these services.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization: www.nhpco.org – Another excellent source of information devoted exclusively to Hospice care.
The Hospice Foundation of America: www.hospicefoundation.org This organization provides leadership in the development and application of hospice and its philosophy of care with the goal of enhancing the American Healthcare System and the role of hospice within it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Click on the questions below to display the answers.
When does hospice care become appropriate?
Hospice care becomes appropriate when a person has a life-limiting illness. The patient's physician and the hospice Medical Director will help make this determination. The patient and family will make the decision whether to elect the hospice services.
Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?
The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, health care professionals, friends or clergy.
When is the right time to ask about hospice?
Now is the best time to learn more about hospice and ask questions about what to expect from hospice services. Although end-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, it is best for family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern. This can greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice is needed.
By having these discussions in advance, patients are not forced into uncomfortable situations. Instead, patients can make an educated decision that includes the advice and input of family members and loved ones.
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.
What does the admission process to hospice involve?
Usually the patient's physician makes a referral to hospice. When an individual calls the hospice to inquire or request services, hospice will contact the patient's physician to discuss whether he/she thinks the patient is appropriate for hospice services at this time.
The patient will be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. The form that Medicare patients sign also tells how electing Medicare hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage. Hospice will visit the patient within 48 hours of the referrals, provided this is convenient for the patient/family/primary caregiver.
Is hospice available after hours?
After normal business hours, our "on call" staff are available to assist you 7 days a week, 24 hours day.
How does hospice work to keep the patient comfortable?
Hospice staff receives special training to care for all types of physical and emotional symptoms that cause pain, discomfort, and distress. Hospice staff works with the patient's physician and hospice medical director to make sure that medication, therapies and procedures are designed to achieve the goals set in the patient's plan of care.
Where can I receive hospice care?
The hospice patient can receive services wherever they call home. This could be a nursing or long term care facility, residential care home, private home, assisted living or a hospice facility.
Will medications prevent the patient from being aware or from talking?
Not usually. The goal of hospice is for the patient to be as pain-free and alert as possible.
Is hospice care covered by insurance?
Hospice care may be covered by your insurance. You should check with your health insurance provider to be sure.
If the patient is eligible for Medicare, will there be any additional expense to be paid?
The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers the full scope of medical and support services for a life limiting illness. Hospice care supports the family and loved ones of the person through various services. It covers almost all aspects of hospice care with little expense to the patient or family.
Does hospice provide services to the family after the patient dies?
Most hospices provide continuing contact and support for caregivers/family/loved ones for at least a year following the death of a loved one.
Electing hospice care does not mean giving up hope. It means curative treatments are no longer effective in managing the disease's progression
What is Hospice?
Hospice is a special way of caring for people who are terminally ill with a life-expectancy of 6 months or less. Hospice provides supportive and palliative care to people at the end of their life with emphasis on comfort and quality of life rather than curative treatments. Emotional support for the individual and family is also provided.
Who Pays for Hospice?
Typically, hospice services are paid by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance companies.
Who is Eligible for Hospice?
Any person with a life limiting illness who has a general life expectancy of six months or less if the disease or condition runs its usual course is eligible for hospice services. Mercy accepts patients without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age or disease.
Can I receive hospice care if I reside in a nursing facility or long term care facility?
Hospice services can be provided to a person who has a life-limiting illness wherever they live. This may be a long term care facility, assisted living, residential care home or in patient facility. Wherever a person calls home, you can receive specialized visits from hospice nurses, hospice aides, chaplains, social workers, and volunteers, in addition to other care and services provided by the nursing facility.