Many people have heard the term “hospice” without really understanding exactly what it is or what hospice care provides. Those who don’t understand the term have probably never had a reason to think about it, and most don’t think about it until they are in a situation that requires it.
But, hospice care is something everyone should understand because you never know when a family member may require hospice services. But, before we answer, ‘what is hospice care?’ It’s important to point out that there are a lot of misconceptions about hospice. So, let’s start by talking about what Hospice care is NOT.
Hospice is NOT:
Just a Place or Facility
Just For Cancer Patients
A long-standing myth, hospice provides end of life care to those with a wide range of end of life conditions such as kidney failure, heart failure, and advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Just for the Patient
Many hospice services provide not only medical care for the patient but grief counseling and after death assistance for the family.
Hospice is not a permanent choice. Anyone in hospice care may choose to leave and receive curative treatments at any time.
So, What is Hospice Care?
Hospice is medical care geared toward maintaining and improving quality of life for an individual whose illness or condition is likely incurable. Hospice is offered as an option when all curative measures have been exhausted and the life prognosis is six months or less.
Hospice care doesn’t just focus on one aspect of end of life care, like pain management. Pain management is part of it, but hospice professionals look at the whole life of the patient. They want to make them comfortable, help them engage in life as much as possible and help ease their minds and hearts. To do that, they provide not only medical care but emotional care as well.
A Team of Caregivers
Hospice isn’t just a single individual. To provide proper, end of life care, a team of professionals works together to administer medications, provide support, give physical therapy, and provide all the services that account for a fulfilled life, all the way to the end.
Even those individuals who have vowed to care for their sick loved one sometimes need a break. In order to provide the best care possible, they need to be able to step away from time to time and leave their loved one in the care of someone they trust. Many hospice providers offer respite care so, even if you haven’t turned to a facility for full-time hospice help, you can still get the help you need when you need it.
Many insurance plans cover a portion of the expense for Hospice care but for those that don’t, it is covered by Medicare through the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Hospice is also covered by Medicaid and Veteran's Benefits.
While different programs may offer different benefits, you can find a list of the services most Hospice Care Services provide on the the Hospice Foundation of America’s website. You should be sure to ask any facility or service you are considering what exactly they provide.