Common Questions

Common Questions When Considering Hospice

When is it time to consider hospice?

Hospice is appropriate for people with progressive, life-limiting illnesses who want to focus on enjoying their remaining time with family and friends. To this end, hospice provides effective pain and symptom management.

Too often, patients are referred to hospice in their last weeks or days. These patients and their families can’t take full advantage of the care and support hospice can provide.

If your health continues to worsen despite aggressive treatment, or if you’ve simply decided that you’re tired of hospital visits and exhausting procedures, you may want to consider hospice.

What is a life-limiting illness?

This is a chronic disease or condition that doesn’t respond to curative treatments, leading to a terminal diagnosis. Having a life-limiting illness qualifies a patient for hospice.

Cancer is the most common such illness. Others include:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • Stroke
  • ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Heart disease or congestive heart failure
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Emphysema and other respiratory diseases
  • Liver disease
  • End-stage renal disease
  • AIDS

Hospice may also be appropriate for those patients who have several conditions that, when considered together, leave their health fragile and shorten their life expectancy.

How are pain and symptoms managed?

Even when nothing more can be done to cure an illness, much can still be done to ease a patient’s pain and symptoms. Modern methods for effectively controlling virtually all types of pain are now available.

The professionals at CompassionCare Hospice are experts in pain and symptom management. We work with patients and their caregivers to understand the sources of pain and find treatments that provide real relief.

Where is care provided?

Hospice care is provided wherever the patient calls home. This may be a private residence, an assisted-living facility, a nursing home or other setting.

What are some hospice misconceptions?

“Hospice means giving up hope.”

Not at all. Hospice provides hope — by giving patients a chance to complete their lives without being debilitated by pain and exhausted by futile medical treatments, and by giving caregivers the support they need. So each can more fully enjoy the time they have left with their loved ones.

“Patients must be bedridden to qualify for hospice.”

Those with life-limiting illnesses may never be able to do some of the things they once did. But hospice is founded on the idea that, with proper pain and symptom management, patients can enjoy a much better quality of life.

“Hospice care runs out after six months.”

This misconception arises from Medicare hospice guidelines, which state that a hospice patient must be certified has having six months or less to live. In fact, patients may choose to receive care as long as they continue to meet the medical criteria.

“Hospice includes 24-hour professional care.”

Hospice nurses and other health care professionals provide support and are always available by phone. But a family member usually sees to the patient’s routine care, including help with taking medications.

However, one level of hospice care — called crisis care — brings Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants to the patient’s home as needed. To learn more about the levels of care, please click here.

“Hospice patients can’t resume traditional medical care.”

Hospice is a choice, and patients who choose hospice can always return to the hospital or seek curative treatments again.

How can hospice help my family?

Complete care.

The CompassionCare Hospice team addresses all our patients’ physical symptoms. We help patients and their families cope with the many stresses that accompany a life-limiting illness. We also help them manage end-of-life decisions and provide emotional and spiritual support.

Insight.

CompassionCare can help you understand of the nature of your illness, the likely outcome of your current course of treatment, what will happen next, and how you can have the best possible quality of life.

Peace of mind.

At this stressful time in their lives, our patients and their families rely on the expertise of our physicians, the around-the-clock availability of our Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants, and the aid and compassion of our trained volunteers.

Why is early referral important?

The earlier the referral is made, the more CompassionCare Hospice can do to enhance the patient’s quality of life.

Expert pain and symptom management is just the start. We offer emotional and spiritual aid to the patient and his or her family. We support the patient’s caregiver throughout the hospice stay. We help family members discuss end-of-life issues and help patients organize their personal affairs.

Another benefit to early referral: By living with less pain, the patient has better presence of mind to manage difficult choices and make their wishes known to their loved ones.

Hospice should be one of the care options you discuss with your family and physician before a referral is necessary. Most of our patients come to wish they’d known about hospice sooner.

What are the levels of care?

Routine home care. Most hospice patients begin at this level. Usually, a family member provides day-to-day care. CompassionCare Hospice provides the equipment, medications and information that caregivers need to fulfill their duties.

Our Registered Nurses make regular home visits to assist with pain and symptom management, and our Certified Nursing Assistants, social workers and other team members visit as needed. Nurses are also available anytime by phone to help patients and caregivers through a crisis.

Crisis care. CompassionCare offers unique expertise in crisis care, which is for in-home patients who require skilled nursing care to control their pain and other symptoms. Our Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants stay with the patient for longer periods of time, day or night, as needed.

Not every patient will need crisis care, but knowing it’s available can provide important peace of mind to patients and caregivers.

Respite care. Even the most committed caregiver occasionally needs a break. CompassionCare can transfer the patient to a hospital setting for a short while — up to five days — so the caregiver can see to his or her own well-being.

Inpatient care. For some patients, palliative care in a home setting isn’t appropriate. CompassionCare also supports those who are hospitalized or in a long-term care (LTC) facility. A Registered Nurse supervises the patient 24 hours a day to ensure that the patient’s pain and symptoms are properly managed.

What is the Plan of Care?

It’s a comprehensive plan for fulfilling the hospice patient’s individual care goals, developed by CompassionCare in consultation with the patient’s personal physician.

Each member of the hospice team can access this plan, which is continuously updated to reflect the patient’s preferences.

How do you support caregivers?

Caring for a hospice patient is a rewarding task, but it’s also a serious responsibility. A caregiver has to be physically, emotionally and spiritually ready to help when the patient is in need.

CompassionCare works to ease caregivers’ burden in many ways. Our health professionals ensure that caregivers are fully informed and well-prepared to care for their loved ones to the best of their ability. Along with medical assistance and in-home help from trained volunteers, we offer respite care, grief counseling, spiritual support and more.

Family members are welcome to participate in free support groups and one-on-one counseling any time during the first 13 months of the hospice patient’s death. Our experienced mental health professionals and social workers can also help family members access community resources.

Please call CompassionCare at 702-636-0200 for more information about these services.

What can caregivers do to cope?

You can’t properly tend to a hospice patient if you neglect your own well-being. Unfortunately, problems like exhaustion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, anxiety, frustration and depression are all too common among caregivers.

There are ways you can better care for yourself while you care for your loved one. Start by getting the nutrition and rest you need. Learn to recognize and manage sources of stress.

Accept the help of hospice volunteers, family members — anyone who will lend a hand. Make time for yourself when you can, and if daily caregiving becomes too much, ask for respite care.

CompassionCare Hospice professionals can discuss these and other coping strategies with you.

Where is hospice care provided?

Most hospice patients prefer to remain at home — which may be a private residence, assisted living center or nursing home.

Who at CCH provides care?

An interdisciplinary group of hospice professionals — physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual advisors, dieticians and volunteers — work together to support each patient’s caregiver.

Can I keep seeing my own doctor?

Yes, if that’s your choice. CompassionCare Hospice will work closely with your physician on your Plan of Care and on all medical treatments, in or out of hospice.

Who decides if hospice is appropriate?

With hospice, the patient is in control. You can consult with your family and physician, then decide what type of care you receive.

Anyone close to the patient may contact CompassionCare to ask about hospice services or make a referral. But the patient (or another responsible party) must choose hospice for themselves.

How is hospice care paid for?

Most of our patients qualify for coverage through Medicare or Medicaid. Medicare pays all expenses related to hospice care — including nursing services, therapy, medications, supplies and the use of durable medical equipment.

This remarkable benefit is available to those who are enrolled in Medicare Part A and who are certified as having a life-limiting illness leaving them with life expectancy of six months or less. Medicare coverage for services unrelated to hospice stays the same, and patients can keep their personal physician if they choose.

CompassionCare also accepts most private insurance plans, and provides services to military personnel in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

If none of those options is available to you, contact us to discuss your situation. CompassionCare accepts patients without regard to their ability to pay.