What To Expect?

When a referral is made to hospice, a team comprised of either an RN, Social Worker or Patient Representative will make a visit to where the patient resides whether at home, in a nursing facility, assisted living center or hospital room. This meeting will include the patient and family during which our staff will explain hospice services, work with the family in developing a plan of care, and get all of the necessary paperwork completed.

A referral can be made by a physician, hospital case manager, nursing or assisted living facility, foster home or the patient and family. Once this order to Assess and Admit has been received, we will work quickly to admit and bring our hospice care team to your aide.

How Does Hospice Work?

Hospice care is for any person who has a life-limiting or terminal illness. Most reimbursement sources require a prognosis of six months or less if the illness runs its normal course. Patients with both cancer and non-cancer illnesses are eligible to receive hospice care. All hospices consider the patient and family together as the unit of care.

“Home” is where the patient resides whether at home, a nursing or assisted living facility or foster/personal care home. The majority of hospice patients are cared for in their own homes or the homes of a loved one.

Typically, a family member serves as the primary caregiver and when appropriate, helps make decisions for the patient. Members of the hospice staff make regular visits to assess the patient and provide additional care or other services. Hospice staff is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Who is the Hospice Team?

Hospice care is a family-centered approach that includes, at a minimum, a team of doctors, nurses, hospice aides, social workers, spiritual counselors, and trained volunteers. They work together focusing on the patient’s needs: physical, psychological and spiritual. The goal is to help keep the patient as pain-free as possible, with loved ones nearby throughout the course of care. The hospice team develops a care plan that meets each patient's individual needs for pain management and symptom control.

Though the Hospice Medical Director becomes the primary physician responsible for the plan of care, we work closely with the patient’s physician to be an active member of the care team. Both the patient's physician and the hospice medical director may work together to coordinate the patient's medical care, especially when symptoms are difficult to manage. The hospice medical director is always available to answer questions you or the patient may have regarding hospice medical care.

Hospice care is managed by an Interdisciplinary Team of professionals that will tailor a plan specific to the patient’s goals for comfort and care:

  • Hospice physician (or medical director);
  • The patient's personal physician;
  • Nurses;
  • Hospice aides;
  • Social workers;
  • Clergy or other counselors;
  • Dietician;
  • Trained volunteers; and
  • Speech, physical, and occupational therapists, if needed.
What Services Does the Hospice Team Provide?

Among its major responsibilities, the interdisciplinary hospice team:

  • Manages the patient’s pain and symptoms;
  • Provides needed medications, medical supplies, and equipment;
  • Coaches the family on how to care for the patient;
  • Assists the patient with the emotional and psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying;
  • Delivers special services like speech and physical therapy when needed;
  • Makes short-term inpatient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or the caregiver needs respite time; and
  • Provides bereavement care and counseling to surviving family and friends.

In most cases, family members or loved ones are the patient's primary care givers. Additionally, hospice recognizes that loved ones have their own special needs for support. As a relationship with the hospice begins, hospice staff will want to know about the primary caregiver's priorities. They will also want to know how best to support the patient and family during this time. Support can take many different forms, including visits with the patient and family members; telephone calls to loved ones, including family members who live at a distance, about the patient's condition; and the provision of volunteers to assist with patient and family needs.

Counseling services for the patient and loved ones are an important part of hospice care. After the patient's death, bereavement support is offered to families for at least one year. These services are also tailored specifically to your level of need and can take a variety of forms, including telephone calls, visits, written materials about grieving and support groups. Individual counseling may be offered by the hospice or the hospice may make a referral to a community resource.