Facts about hospice care that might surprise you

Facts about hospice careWith so much information available (and actually bombarding us) we think we know everything.  But sometimes what we know is out-dated information, or only part of the story.

Take hospice for instance.  I’ve run into so many people who say, “Yes, I know about hospice” . . . and it turns out that they don’t. . . .

Here are some common misconceptions:

1)  It’s non-reversible – meaning that once you sign up for it, that’s the last decision you will ever get to make.  Nothing, absolutely nothing could be farther from the truth.  People are admitted to hospice care if they agree to it and if two doctors agree that the patient meets hospice criteria.   What most people don’t know is that if patients sign up for hospice, they can revoke it at any time.  And sign up again at any time (providing they still meet the criteria.)  And they can do this an unlimited number of times.  Most don’t, but it’s absolutely possible and easy to do so.  Furthermore, while they are getting hospice services, now more than ever, they are in charge of making decisions about their personal health care, frequencies of visits, medications etc.

2)  It’s just for the last few days.  Wrong again.  Ideally, it’s for the last few months – or even longer.  Remember that hospice is for the entire family, so the sooner we can bring peace, dignity and a pain-free existence for the patient, the more time the patients and  families have with our social workers and chaplains to come to terms with the inevitable transition and loss.

3)  It’s expensive.  No, actually the hospice services of our nurses, certified nursing assistants and chaplains are offered at no cost to the patient or family.  If the patient has insurance for this, it is used.  If not, it’s paid for by Medicare, regardless of the patient’s age.  Hospice services are free.

4)  It’s available only in a special facility.  On the contrary, only a few actual hospice facilities exist.  The vast majority of patients are treated where they currently live, be it a nursing home, assisted living facility or the private home of the patient or family.  We come to the patient.

5)  It’s just for people who have cancer.  Actually, what we know as modern hospice practices did start out as an all-volunteer moment in England for cancer patients. Now our professionals are reimbursed by Medicare and there are an amazing number of diagnoses and combinations of diagnoses that qualify for hospice.  While cancer is the still the most common, it only accounts for about 30% of admissions.

This last reason – and really all of the above – is why it’s always appropriate to contact a hospice organization and ask for a free assessment in case the patient and the family can get help with free, convenient and beneficial services during this very difficult time.

Angels Grace Hospice, located in Bolingbrook, IL,  provides a customized care plan to meet the specific needs of patients.  We provide comfort care in your home, hospital, nursing home or assisted-living facility depending on your individual circumstances.  Contact us with any questions and for further assistance with your end of life care options.