Hospice concentrates on comfort care rather than curative care when symptoms of terminal illness or progressive disease become too difficult to treat. Hospice care is available to patients facing a limited life expectancy of approximately six month or less. Hospice provides medical care and pain management for the patient as well as emotional and spiritual support to patients and their families. Hospice offers patient care in home settings, nursing homes, or residential (long-term) care facilities.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization incorporates the belief that all people have a right to die peacefully and with dignity. Hospice care directs attention to that end so that patients dealing with end-of-life illnesses receive the medical care and psychosocial support they need to die in this way.
Hospice care begins when the treating physician and patient (or patient’s health care proxy) determine that they will no longer pursue a cure through aggressive treatment plans, such as chemotherapy, blood transfusions, or medications intended to prolong life. The Medicare Hospice Benefit provides the medical equipment the hospice team needs to care specifically for each patient they serve. In addition to a skilled staff, hospice also uses trained and caring volunteers who run errands, offer companionship, and help patients and families in ways that are appropriate under hospice services.
Hospice serves all patients regardless of race, religion, age, or illness. Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations cover hospice services in full or with minimal co-pays.
Click here for a copy of the Medicare Hospice Benefit