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Hospice Care

Hospice care is considered the model for quality compassionate care for individuals facing a life limiting illness when life expectancy is less than six months and curative treatment is not an option.

Hospice is appropriate for all illnesses and is not limited to cancer. You can receive hospice care if you request it or by the recommendation of your physician (primary or a specialist (e.g., oncologist, palliative medicine or cardiologist).

An individual is hospice eligible if life expectancy at the time of admissions is estimated by the referring physician to be less than six months. After enrolling, an individual can stop hospice at any time if there are changes in condition or if treatment options become available.

Hospice is about caring, not curing. Hospice is appropriate when curative treatment is no longer indicated and the focus is being shifted to prioritizing control of symptoms, comfort and continued quality of life.

Hospice Care Services

The hospice team provides medical care, including pain and symptom management, as well as psychosocial care, including emotional and spiritual support, tailored to meet the needs of the individual and his or her family. Hospice can be provided in a person’s home, nursing home, or hospital. Services offered by hospice.

Hospice Care Settings and Insurance Coverage

Hospice is usually delivered in a person’s home. Care is considered to be “family based” and caregivers in the home are expected to meet the day-to-day needs of the patient with the hospice services being a complement and support to that care. If you find that you need additional help, the hospice team will help you understand your options and get the proper care.

Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance all cover hospice care providing a physician certifies that there is a terminal illness that is likely to result in death within six months. Some individuals live less than six months and some live longer. Hospice is not a rigid structure of care, nor is it limited to a strict time frame. Learn more about the Medicare hospice benefit.

Hospice care may also be provided in a nursing home, assisted living, acute hospital, or residential hospice. Information about hospice services in a facility.

Enrolling in Hospice

If you are considering hospice or are trying to select the most appropriate home hospice for you, you may want to look for recommendations from friends and relatives who are familiar with Westchester hospices. It is also helpful to speak directly with the different hospice providers.

Although all hospices in Westchester are not-for-profit and offer essentially the same services, required by law, each hospice has its own character and culture. You may want to ask during the interview how a particular hospice differs from other area hospices and what services they offer in addition to those required by law. Additional questions to ask.

When you have decided on your hospice, a nurse or social worker will come to your home to discuss the program and your understanding of your illness and its management, as well as answer your questions. The hospice team members will let you know how often they will visit and what care they will be offering. You will learn how many hours you will have home health aides and what equipment will be included in your care and, also, how to contact hospice if your symptoms change. Hospice has a 24-hour on call system to respond to your after-hour needs. Since hospice is a federal benefit under Medicare, specific consent forms need to be reviewed and signed. The hospice nurse or social worker will help answer all of your questions and assist with the paperwork. You can choose to leave hospice care at any time and return to curative treatments.

Hospice Care Over Time

You can enroll in hospice any time in the course of your illness, if your life expectancy is less than six months and you have decided to forgo further curative measures. In your first months on hospice you may be up and walking and doing many of your usual activities. Your nurse may only need to visit once a week and you will get an opportunity to get to know your social worker, chaplain and volunteer.

As your illness takes its course you may need more medication to manage pain and symptoms and the visit from the nurse may be more frequent. You may receive complementary services, such as massage, Reiki and music therapy. In the last days of your life, the nurse will visit you often to ensure you remain comfortable. You may get additional aide services and medications.

Throughout your hospice experience your hospice team will stay focused on keeping you and your family comfortable and supported. Bereavement services for survivors are part of the hospice benefit and continue thirteen months after the death.

Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers about hospice care.