What is hospice?

hands supportHospice allows those suffering from terminal illness to focus on those things that mean the most to them. This special type of care can help people live their life to the fullest in their final months. Hospice also provides support to families who help care for the patient.

We work with patients wherever they call home, making visits to nursing homes, private homes, assisted living facilities and group homes.

Hospice is available to anyone who has a life expectancy of six months or less and has chosen comfort care, which treats symptoms as they arise, instead of curative care, which is focused on curing a disease. The prognosis is based on your physician’s judgement. This does not mean that a person can only receive hospice care for six months. Care is available for those who choose to receive it as their disease continues to progress.

Hospice is available to patients of all ages with a variety of life-limiting illnesses, including:

  • Heart Disease
  • Lung Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Cancer
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Multiple chronic illnesses
  • Other conditions related to aging

See below for frequently asked questions to help you understand more about hospice:

Who is on the hospice team?

Your hospice team is made up of highly skilled professionals. Hospice staff work closely with your physician to develop a plan of care tailored to meet your physical, emotional and spiritual needs, offering comfort and compassionate care when it matters most.

The hospice team includes:

  • Your regular physician. Hospice does not require patients to switch physicians in order to receive care. Instead, our hospice staff works with patients’ primary physicians to figure out how to meet their needs. A hospice medical director will work with your physician, but not replace them.
  • Registered Nurses and licensed practical nurses, who are available for support and to assist in providing comfort, managing symptoms, coordinating services and providing education to you and your family.
  • Hospice physicians, who are available to consult with nursing staff, as well as other physicians.
  • Licensed social workers, who provide social and emotional support, as well as counseling and referral services for community services and programs.
  • Home health aides and homemakers, who assist with personal care and light housekeeping.
  • Spiritual care counselors, or chaplains, who are available to offer emotional and spiritual support.
  • Music therapists, pet therapists and massage therapists, who add to quality of life through pain management, symptom management and relaxation.
  • Bereavement care counselors, who offer support services before, during and for at least 13 months after the death of a loved one. Services include mailings, phone calls, support groups and counseling.
  • Volunteers, who provide added support services to the patient and family. Direct care volunteers may provide companionship, assistance with household tasks, quality of life activities such as playing cards, reading, visiting or completing special projects that bring meaning to every day. They may also provide respite breaks for the family, giving them needed time away. Vigil volunteers provide companionship to patients and families when death is near.
How is hospice paid for?

Most of the time the cost of hospice care is covered in full and there is no cost to the patient. Sometimes hospice can reduce expenses for the patient.

We are committed to caring for all those who need hospice care. Even if you have no form of payment, hospice can help. Please contact us with questions related to your specific situation. Someone from our team can assist with determining options for payment.

  • Medicare/Medical Assistance - Hospice is a covered benefit under Medicare. Not only does it cover the cost of the professional services, it also provides coverage for medications, supplies, and equipment needed to manage the symptoms associated with your illness. Hospice will not charge any fees related to prescriptions, equipment or respite care. Minnesota also provides a hospice benefit under Medical Assistance which is very similar to the Medicare Benefit. If you are enrolled in Medical Assistance, recipient responsibilities (spend down) still apply.
  • Private Insurance - Most healthcare insurance policies also pay for hospice care. Coverage by insurance will vary depending on the plan. Your deductibles and co-pays will likely still apply.
  • Veteran’s Benefits - If you are enrolled to receive health care services from the Veteran’s Administration, you are eligible for hospice care through the VA. This benefit is similar to the Medicare benefit. If you are a veteran who does not currently receive health care services through the VA, you may be eligible to receive Hospice services through the VA after a brief application process.
  • Private Pay - If insurance coverage is not available or insufficient, hospice will work with you and discuss payment options.
How does hospice help the patient's family?

Those with serious illnesses may be concerned about family members and other loved ones. Hospice is there to support and assist the families of patients, both during the course of their illness and in the months to follow.

Family caregivers are important in hospice care. Being a caregiver can be very challenging. Hospice offers education about how to provide care for a loved one as well as support during those challenging times.

Hospice also provides grief support for loved ones after the patient passes. The hospice bereavement coordinator will offer a variety of options so family members can begin and continue their journey of healing.

What unique services are available through hospice?

The hospice team is a team of highly skilled professionals whose care is focused on the alleviation of physical, emotional, psychosocial and spiritual suffering.

The services of the team are based on the patient’s goals and choices for end-of-life care. They include:

Legacy Letters Service. Legacy letters are a way patients can record the thoughts and wishes they want to share with their loved ones. This allows them to pass on the lessons they’ve learned and the values they cherish. It provides an invaluable gift for loved ones to remember them by. Hospice provides trained and certified Legacy Navigators to help patients prepare these letters. They can encourage patients to think about what they want to share and how it can benefit those who care about them, as well as assisting in the actual writing of letters.

Pet therapy. Our certified therapy dogs and their trainers make visits to interested patients to provide the TLC that only a four-footed companion can give. Visits from a therapy dog can help provide physical and emotional comfort, as well as reduce feelings of isolation.

Music therapy. Music therapists engage patients and caregivers by providing instruments for them to play, music to listen to or sing along with, and a chance to improvise music. Guided imagery sessions can help promote relaxation.

Massage therapy. Massage provides a healing touch at a time when it is needed the most. It can help ease pain in ways that medication can not.

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