Hospice care is often misunderstood and the full scope of care can be difficult to understand. For patients, family members, loved ones, and physicians, it’s important to have the correct information about hospice so that you can make informed decisions around end-of-life care.
What hospice means for patients and their families
There are a lot of common myths about hospice care. Many people don’t fully understand what hospice is or view it as a “death sentence” when, in reality, hospice care gives life back to people’s final days. Here are three quick facts that address common questions patients and their families have about hospice care:
- Hospice care, and where you receive it, is a choice. While patients do have to qualify for hospice, it is ultimately their choice whether to remain in care and where to receive that care. Hospice care can be administered in a care center, at home, or in a skilled nursing center. Patients can opt to revoke their hospice status or change care locations at any time. As goals and medical needs change over time, some patients and their families may decide that they no longer wish to remain in hospice care — opting instead to seek aggressive medical treatment or to stop receiving care altogether. Patients can also come back to hospice at any time, as long as they meet hospice eligibility guidelines. End of life is a deeply personal experience and a patient’s needs and wishes can change. Hospice providers like Hospice of Southwest Ohio will work to understand what is most important to you and your family and help design your care on your terms.
- Hospice is a covered benefit. Hospice is covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare Part A covers up to 100% of the cost of hospice care related to a hospice-eligible patient’s illness with no deductible or copayment. Medicaid provides hospice coverage, but it varies by state. Additionally, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations include hospice care as a benefit. Private or employer-provided health coverage can vary, so check with your insurance provider for details about hospice eligibility and coverage. For individuals without adequate coverage, our team will work with you to determine options that meet your needs.
- Hospice care isn’t just for the patient. Hospice care takes a holistic approach to care, focusing on physical, emotional, and spiritual care for both patients and their families, as well as caregivers. At Hospice of Southwest Ohio, we offer grief counselors, social workers, and chaplains to help support families and lessen the burden and stressfulness of end-of-life care. After a patient passes, our team will continue to support family members through their grief. We also offer grief support courses for those looking to learn more about how to cope with grief.
What hospice means for physicians
Physicians are an integral part of the hospice process. Sometimes, the medical community can view hospice as a “failure” since a physician’s duty is to cure illnesses and improve the health of their patients. However, it is imperative for doctors to focus on their patients and their lives as a whole, not just in regard to their diseases. Understanding the important role that hospice can play in a patient’s care plan can help improve the time they have. These three quick facts can help dispel common misconceptions that care providers have about hospice care:
- A physician doesn’t choose if a patient receives hospice care (and who provides that care). When a patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it is their physician’s job to certify that they are eligible for hospice care. However, they do not make the final decision for the patient regarding whether or not they opt for hospice care and where they receive that care. Physicians may have a hospice referral partner that they work with to help make the transition to care easier, but the final decision for end-of-life care ultimately falls to their patient and their family.
- Patients don't stop receiving care from their own physicians once they enter into hospice care. Hospice providers work closely with a patient’s primary care physician. Hospice means shifting from the goal of disease treatment to symptom management and creating the best quality of life for the days a patient has left. We can offer therapies that better manage symptoms and provide comfort while the patient continues to see their regular care provider. If the patient decides to exit hospice care at any time, their regular physician can continue to provide care.
- Transitioning a patient to hospice care doesn’t have to be complicated. The best way to simplify the transition to hospice care is to simply be prepared. Education is empowering, for both physicians and their patients. Seek out preferred local hospice providers to establish partnerships and discuss their referral process. Some may take referrals online or via phone call, some may be able to admit same-day referrals, while others will have a longer processing time. By understanding their hospice referral process, you can develop relationships with the individuals who your patients will be speaking to and you can seamlessly transition patients without delays. Many providers will also have resources that you can provide patients to help educate them on the hospice process.
Here for you
At Hospice of Southwest Ohio, we are dedicated to helping our community better understand end-of-life care and helping our patients by providing compassionate care. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about end-of-life care. Hospice of Southwest Ohio offers hospice, palliative, and in-home primary care in and around the greater Cincinnati area in Clermont County, Butler County, Warren County and Hamilton County. Call today at (513) 770-0820.