Hospice Questions and Answers

  • What is Hospice?
    Hospice is a special concept of care designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life limiting illness no longer responds to cure oriented treatments. The focus of hospice is to promote quality of life, dignity, patient choice and closure.
  • Who Qualifies for Hospice Services?
    Any patient whose primary physician certifies them as terminally ill with a life expectancy of 6 months or less if the illness runs its normal course. Some common illnesses associated with hospice include cancer, pulmonary disease, heart disease, neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and AIDS.
  • When is it appropriate for a person to elect hospice services?
    Electing hospice is never an easy decision, so it is always wise to consult your physician and hospice provider when considering this option. If a person has an illness that is considered terminal and treatment is no longer effective or the person does not wish to pursue further treatment, hospice services may be appropriate.
  • By electing hospice services, will I receive a substandard level of care?
    Hospice is definitely not a substandard level of care, it simply places more focus on the person than on their illness. The patient’s comfort, dignity and wishes become of utmost importance. A team of highly qualified professionals will direct and advise the patient and their loved ones throughout the course of the illness.
  • How long can a person remain on hospice?
    By referring a patient to hospice, a physician is stating that he/she feels that the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less if the illness follows a natural course. This is merely a projected estimate. For this reason, there is no limit to how long a person can remain on hospice services.
  • Will my insurance cover hospice services?
    When a physician certifies a person as terminally ill, hospice services are 100% covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurances. The hospice receives a per diem (per day) rate and must provide all services and other amenities under this reimbursement.
  • What will change about my healthcare benefits and services if I elect hospice?
    When a person chooses to receive hospice services, treatment measures for their terminal illness will no longer be covered by their insurance. Diagnostic and laboratory tests, chemotherapy, radiation and other curative actions may not be appropriate under hospice. For this reason, it is important to verify coverage with your hospice provider before seeking medical care to assure that you will not be forced to accept financial liability.
    All curative and treatment measures regarding any ailment, injury or diagnosis other than the terminal diagnosis would be covered under your traditional insurance benefits. For example, a person falls and injures themselves while receiving hospice services, it may be necessary for them to receive emergent treatment at the hospital. Likewise, a hospice patient with a terminal illness of cancer may continue to follow-up with their endocrinologist regarding their diabetes.
  • Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular treatment?
    Certainly. If the patient’s condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. The patient may re-elect hospice again at any time if necessary.
  • How often will I receive assistance from the hospice staff?
    It is important to know that the hospice staff is not present to take the place of a dedicated caregiver in the home or to interrupt important family time. Our visits will be scheduled Monday through Friday during regular business hours and as needed during evenings & weekends. As a patient’s condition worsens or in times of crisis, it may be necessary for the hospice staff to make more frequent and more time intensive visits to assure that all needs are being met and that the family and caregiver are well supported.
  • How will I know when to expect a visit from hospice?
    Circle of Life will gather information regarding your preferences for frequency of visits and time of day upon admission. During your services with us, we will do our best to make visits according to these preferences. You will be notified in advance by phone of the approximate time of each visit. Due to scheduling changes, client and staff issues that arise, visit times may change slightly, however, Circle of Life will do our best to keep you notified of any such changes.
  • Will the same nurse or aide come to my home every time?
    One nurse will be assigned to coordinate your care so that all of your services can run as smoothly as possible. This primary nurse will visit your home as often as possible, however, depending on the times and frequency of a client’s visits, they may meet other nurses. The agency strives to limit a client to as few nurses and aides as possible in order to provide continuity of care. However, all of our staff is highly trained and capable of providing the care that you need.
  • What if I have a question or urgent need after hours or on the weekend?
    Circle of Life has an on-call nurse available at all times for urgent needs or questions. The on-call nurse will answer your question by phone, instruct you in the areas needed or make an extra visit to your home to address the issue.
  • Where does hospice care take place?
    The majority of patients want to remain at home for hospice services and most do. Circle of Life can also meet you in other places of residence such as Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes. The Legacy Lodge Hospice House provides care in a home like setting with a team of health care professionals on sight.
  • Does Circle of Life Hospice Provide any further services to family members after a patient has died?
    When a patient of ours passes away, hospice care does not stop. Circle of Life Hospice will continue to provide the needed support to family and loved ones for up to one year after death. Circle of Life offers printed materials, support groups, spiritual counseling and more to help loved ones through this very difficult time.
  • What if I need time away while caring for my loved one with hospice services at home?
    Hospice staff and volunteers are available to provide short periods of respite as needed for a caregiver to go shopping, go to an appointment or just get away to rest. If overnight or long periods of respite are needed, the hospice patient can be placed in the Legacy Lodge or local Hospital for up to five days at a time for 24-hour care. Respite is a covered service under the hospice benefit.
  • Will my physician be informed of the cares that I am receiving?
    All hospice services are under the direct orders of an attending physician that is chosen by the client. Circle of Life nurses will stay in close communication with the physician and report any concerns that arise.