What do I have to do to get hospice care?

Anyone can inquire about hospice services. You can call us (or another hospice that serves your area) and request an evaluation. We will contact your physician to obtain his/her approval to perform a hospice evaluation. You can also call your physician and ask them to contact us directly for a referral. If your loved one lives in an assisted living facility or nursing home, the facility social worker will be able to assist you in requesting a hospice evaluation. If your loved one is hospitalized, you can talk with the hospital discharge planner to request hospice services.

Who makes the decision about entering hospice and choosing the specific hospice agency?

By law, the patient or their designated decision maker has the authority to elect hospice and select the hospice agency. Your physician, hospital discharge planner or facility social worker may make recommendations, but the final decision of which hospice will best serve you and your family is yours.

What does the hospice admission process involve?

The process is really pretty simple and easy. The patient must have a physician’s order authorizing the hospice evaluation. A member of our hospice team will meet with the patient and family to explain the hospice benefit and services provided. A hospice Registered Nurse will perform a physical evaluation and review the patient’s medical records to ensure they meet hospice guidelines. If the evaluation shows that the patient meets hospice guidelines, their physician will give the hospice permission to begin care. The patient or their designated decision maker must also sign a form electing the hospice benefit. The entire process may only take a few hours.

Can I quit hospice?

At any time during hospice care and for any reason, the patient or their designated decision maker can make the decision to leave hospice and resume receiving aggressive treatment. You can also return to hospice at any time as long as you meet the hospice appropriateness criteria and have a physician order for hospice.

If I live longer than six months, are the services cut off?

NO – Because no one can precisely predict an end-of-life timeline and patients often improve (and actually live longer) when receiving hospice care, there is no limit on the length of time patients can be on hospice. They must simply continue to meet the Medicare hospice guidelines for appropriateness.

Should I wait to choose hospice until I am really certain that nothing else can be done?

NO – Making the decision to choose hospice earlier affords the patient and their loved ones adequate time for symptom and pain management and the development of a trusting relationship with their hospice team. Your hospice team has a depth of knowledge and experience with end-of-life matters. They will be there to answer your questions and help you be better prepared for this journey. One of the most common statements people make is, “I wish I had chosen hospice sooner.”

Do I have to have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order or other advance directives before I enter hospice?

NO – However, by entering hospice the patient is acknowledging that they are giving up on aggressive treatment to prolong life. Our staff will work with the patient and their loved ones to help them understand advanced directives and to make decisions on the type of end of life support they would like.

Can I still use my own doctor?

YES – The patient’s primary physician is part of their hospice team and can be as involved as they would like. We will communicate with your primary care physician on a regular basis. You can continue to see your primary care doctor as needed for your medical care.

What do I do if I need help at night or on the weekend?

We have staff available to make visits 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year long. A hospice nurse will respond to your call for help within minutes to discuss your problem and determine the best action to take.

I live alone. Can I sign up for hospice if I do not have a primary caregiver who lives with me?

YES – You may elect the hospice benefit while living alone. Our staff will work with you to determine your plan for receiving care when you are unable to care for yourself or live alone.

I still want to drive and take a few short trips. Can I be on hospice and do this?

YES – we will support you in living your life to the fullest. We encourage our patients to go out and do what they feel up to, and what brings them joy. We will help you do the things you love for as long as you are able.