The end of life should be lived with as much convenience and joy as each day before. It is a moment when the discomfort from a serious illness is replaced with feelings of love from close relatives and care providers. Hospice care neither speeds up nor postpones death. It is about enhancing time people share together. “Patients and their loved ones as well as doctors, choose hospice for many reasons and the key word is choice, placing the decisions in the hands of patients and close relatives,” says community liaison, Kristen Lorenz. “We see our services as a gift of physical, emotional and spiritual support with care and dignity.”
What is hospice care? It’s a philosophy of modern care for the control of signs associated with an individual’s diagnosed medical problem. The care is provided occasionally and as needed wherever the individual lives, including someone’s house, assisted living facility, long-term care center or hospital. “We try to emphasize that getting hospice care does not mean giving up hope,” says Lorenz. “We change the focus to one of making the most of life. The goal is to recover the essence of life through pain management and management of symptoms, so family members can remember special periods and create even more of them.”
According to Lorenz, only some Americans eligible for hospice care coverage take advantage of the benefit, 27% to be exact. Of that getting hospice care, the average time frame is only 9.6 days. Such proper care is 100% covered by Medicare Part A, State health programs and Veterans Administration benefits based upon an individual’s diagnosis and life span. While most often utilized for those with six months or less to live, there are times when it is available for longer. “It’s truly remarkable that so few utilize one of the best entitlements we are provided,” she adds.
Where can hospice care be provided?
Hospice can be offered wherever your family member or loved one resides, including:
- In your loved one’s personal home – Hospices will bring all aspects of the hospital to your loved one’s private home, including equipment, medication and of course, the employees.
- Assisted living and personal proper care homes – Hospice care can be offered in an assisted living facility or a private care home. The hospice team works directly with the employees at the facility to coordinate proper care to your beloved relative or parents.
- Nursing homes, long-term care (LTC) establishments and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) – Some patients reside in settings that provide higher levels of proper care (than private care houses or assisted living facilities), such as helped living facilities, long term care facilities and skilled nursing units. The agency works directly with the employees of these facilities to make sure that your elderly loved ones receives proper care.
- Brick and mortar hospice – Hospice is also offered in buildings specially dedicated to providing hospital care.
Can you change hospice care providers?
When family members find themselves in a situation where they decide that their current hospital provider is not looking after a family member properly, family members are within their rights to change hospice providers.
How do you pay for hospice care?
Most hospice care facilities currently accept Medicare, there are several other ways that family members typically pay for hospice:
- Private Insurance – Your elderly loved one may have a private insurance coverage that may cover all or part of the cost of hospice services.
- Insurance from the Veterans Administration (VA) and other government insurance
- Personal Payment – For those who do not have insurance coverage or are not eligible for Medicare, some prospective hospice patients may be in a financial position to pay for hospice services out of pocket.