How to cope with a serious illness
What Is Hospice Care?
Hospice is end-of-life care that provides comfort and support for persons with life-limiting conditions as well as their families.
Hospice care aims to make the person comfortable and relieve their symptoms and pain for the entire length of their illness. To receive hospice, the person must get a referral from their physician stating that if the person’s disease follows its normal course, death may be expected in six months.
This does not mean that care will only be provided for six months; hospice can be provided as long as the person’s physician and hospice team certifies that their condition remains life limiting.
Who provides hospice services?
Hospice care is a family-centered approach that includes, at a minimum, a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, chaplains, home-health aides and trained volunteers. They work together focusing on the dying person’s needs — physical, psychological, social and spiritual. The goal is to help keep the person as pain-free as possible, with loved ones nearby until death.
The hospice team works with the person and family to develop a care plan that meets the person’s needs for pain management and symptom control.
What specific services are provided as part of hospice?
The hospice team will provide the following services to you in your home, wherever you consider home to be:
• Manage your pain and other symptoms
• Support you through the emotional, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying
• Provide you with medications, medical supplies and equipment
• Teach your family skills to help them care for you
• Deliver special services like physical therapy if needed
• Provide grief support and counseling to your loved ones
Does insurance cover hospice services?
Hospice is provided regardless of one’s ability to pay. Hospice is paid for by the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Medicaid Hospice Benefit and most private insurers. If a person does not have coverage through Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance company, hospice will work with the person and their family to ensure that services can be provided. Private insurance coverage varies but generally includes at least some hospice coverage. Contact your insurance provider to verify your level of coverage for these services.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative Care is care of persons with a serious illness, regardless of life expectancy. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of a seriously ill person’s life and support that person and their family during and after treatment. Many of the providers of palliative care are also the same doctors, nurses, social workers and other professionals who provide hospice care.
What specific services are provided as a part of palliative care?
Palliative care focuses on making a person comfortable during their illness and improving their quality of life. Some specific services provided include:
• Symptom management
• Physical therapy
• Counseling for the person and family
• Spiritual support
Where can I go to receive palliative care?
Palliative care is offered in a variety of places according to a person’s needs. Some examples of where palliative care can be provided include:
• In the person’s home
• Assisted living facilities
• Long-term care facilities
Does insurance cover palliative care?
Currently Medicare and Medicaid do not offer a palliative care benefit as they do for hospice care, but may cover some specific services and medications. Private insurance may also cover palliative care. Contact your insurance provider to learn more about your level of coverage for these services. Many hospice programs provide palliative care regardless of a person’s ability to pay.
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