Questions About Hospice

Who is eligible for Hospice?

A person is eligible for hospice care when:

He or she has a serious illness
He or she has completed all curative treatment for that illness.
The person’s doctor and the Hospice Medical Director determine that the illness is life-limiting and that the life expectancy is six months or less.

How does the hospice team interact to provide care to terminally ill patients and their families?

Continuity of care is a major focus in hospice. Team members meet at least every two weeks for an interdisciplinary team meeting to discuss each hospice family and share ideas about how to provide the best care possible. Each problem that comes up is examined by the team from as many different perspectives as there are team members present. In hospice, the “unit of care” is considered to be the patient and family. The IDG or Interdisciplinary group which the team is made up of consists of the Medical Director, nurse, social worker, chaplain, volunteer, volunteer manager, and CNA’s.

Does a person have to be at home to have hospice support?

Hospice patients usually prefer to remain at home, surrounded by family, pets, and familiar sights, sounds and smells. Hospice is primarily geared toward helping people stay home. Needed equipment and supplies are offered, as well as the assistance of the hospice team. Sometimes, however, it is impossible for the patient to stay at home and in these cases family may opt for an adult foster care or nursing home placement. In most cases, hospice can still provide care and support to the patient and family with adjustments made according to the care situation.

Should the care provider in the home setting become exhausted and need a break from caring for the patient, hospice offers respite care in a nursing home or hospital for a few days (usually five) to allow the caregiver respite time.

What are the criteria for admitting a patient to hospice services?

To be accepted onto the hospice program, a patient must have:
* A diagnosed terminal illness
* An acceptance of the concept of palliative care
* Life expectancy of six months or less
* Definite and definable needs
* The availability of a committed primary caregiver
* An attending physician who supports hospice
* Residence within the hospice service area
* Acceptance onto services by the interdisciplinary team
* Hospice care is not only for people with cancer, but for anyone who has a
life-limiting illness.