Hospice Facts & FAQ

When should a decision about entering hospice be made – and who should make it?

At any time during a life-limiting illness, it’s appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s options, including hospice. By law, the decision belongs to the patient. Understandably most people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping an all-out effort to “beat” their disease. Hospice staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and are always available to discuss them with the patient, family and physician.

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, other healthcare professionals, clergy or friends.

What if our physician doesn’t know about hospice?

Most physicians know about hospice. If your physician wants more information, it is available from Hospice of Guernsey, Inc. at 740-432-7440, from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, medical societies, state hospice organizations or the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Helpline at 1-800-658-8898. The American Cancer Society, AARP and the Social Security Administration also have information about hospice.

Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?

Certainly. If improvement in the condition occurs and the disease seems to be in remission, the patient can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on about his or her daily life. If a discharged patient should need to return to hospice care later, Medicare and most private insurances allow coverage.

What does the hospice admission process involve?

One of the first things hospice will do is contact the patient’s physician to make sure he/she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for the patient at this time. The patient will also be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital. The “Hospice Benefit Election” form says that the patient understands that the care is palliative (aimed at pain relief and symptom control) rather than curative. It also outlines the services available. The form Medicare patients sign also tells how electing the Medicare Hospice Benefit affects other Medicare coverage for the life-limiting illness.

Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?

Hospice of Guernsey, Inc. will assess your needs, recommend any necessary equipment, and help make arrangements to obtain it.

How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?

There is no set number. Hospice of Guernsey’s team will prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of caregiving a patient needs. Hospice staff visit regularly and are always accessible to answer questions and provide support.

Must someone be with the patient at all times?

Depending on the patient’s diagnosis, in the early weeks of care, it’s usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. Later, however, hospice generally encourages someone to be there continually, since one of the most common fears of patient is the fear of dying alone. While family and friends must be relied on to give most of the care, hospices do provide volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time away for major caregivers.

How difficult is caring for a dying loved one at home?

It’s never easy and sometimes can be quite hard. At the end of a long, progressive illness, nights especially can be very long, lonely and scary. Hospice of Guernsey, Inc. has staff available around the clock to consult with the family and to make night visits if needed.

What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?

Hospice patients are cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, spiritual caregivers, therapists and volunteers – and each provides assistance based on his or her area of expertise. In addition, Hospice of Guernsey, Inc. helps provide medications, supplies, equipment, hospital services, and additional helpers in the home as appropriate.

Does Hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

Hospices do nothing to either speed up or to slow down the dying process. Just as doctors and mid-wives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, so hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.

Is the home the only place hospice care can be delivered?

No. Although most hospice services are delivered in a personal residence, some patients are cared for in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

How does hospice “manage” pain?

Hospice of Guernsey, Inc. medical director and nurses are up-to-date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. In addition, a Palliative Pharmacist is on the team to evaluate current medications the patient is on, as well recommend medications that may work well to provide pain and symptom relief. Alternative techniques of Reflexology, Art Therapy and Music Therapy are also used to provide relaxation and physical relief of some types of symptoms. Hospice of Guernsey believes that emotional and spiritual pain is just as real and in need of attention as physical pain. Counselors, including spiritual caregivers, are available to assist family members as well as patients.

What is Hospice of Guernsey, Inc. success rate in battling pain?

Very high. One of the first problems addressed on a patient’s admission is the level of pain they are suffering. Using some combination of medicines, counseling and therapies, most patients can attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them.

Is Hospice of Guernsey affiliated with any religious organization?

Hospice care is not an off-shoot of any religion. Hospice of Guernsey, Inc. serves a broad community and does not require patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs.

Is hospice care covered by insurance?

Hospice coverage is widely available. It is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in the State of Ohio and by most
private insurance policies. To be sure of coverage, families should check with their employer or health insurance provider.

If the patient is not covered by Medicare?

The first thing Hospice of Guernsey will do is assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of. Even if there is no coverage available, Hospice of Guernsey, Inc. will provide care for those who cannot pay, using money raised from the community or from memorial gifts.

Does Hospice of Guernsey, Inc. provide any help to the family after the patient dies?

Hospice of Guernsey, Inc. provides continuing contact and support for family and friends for 13 months (or longer, if needed) following the death of a loved one. We also provide supportive services for anyone in the community who has experienced the death of a family member, friend, or loved one.

If a patient is eligible for Medicare, will there be any additional expenses to be paid?

No. Medicare covers all services and supplies related to the life-limiting illness for the hospice patient.

What is Hospice of Guernsey’s privacy policy?

Click to read our Notice of Privacy Practices.

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