Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care provides medical, emotional and spiritual comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments. Hospice care stresses quality of life, while controlling the symptoms that can cause pain and discomfort.
2. Who qualifies for Hospice?
Anyone who is facing a life-limiting or terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less to live.
3. Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of Hospice, or should I bring it first?
Patients and families should always feel free to discuss all available treatment options throughout the course of their illness, including hospice care. If a patient or family member feels their physician is reluctant to discuss hospice care, it is appropriate to address concerns or questions about the subject.
4. Is all Hospice care the same?
No. Many communities have more than one hospice, some operating as for-profit agencies and some as non-profit agencies. The quantity and quality of all services can vary significantly from one hospice to another; however, Medicare requires all certified hospices to provide a basic level of care. When choosing a hospice, ask specific questions such as are their medical staff members certified in hospice and palliative care; how many years of experience their nurses have in caring for the terminally ill; do they use certified home health aides or nurses' assistants and do their social workers hold masters of social work degrees?
5. Can a Hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
Most definitely—the decision to continue hospice services lies with the patient. If a patient's condition improves, the disease appears to be in remission or new curative treatments become available, patients can be discharged from hospice at any time. Medicare and most private insurance will allow additional coverage for hospice services if the discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care.
6. How do I refer someone to Hospice Brazos Valley?
A referral begins with a phone call to any of our offices. It can come from a family member, friend, healthcare provider, or even from the patient.
7. What does the Hospice admission process involve?
One of the first things we will do is contact the patient's personal physician to make sure hospice care is appropriate for the patient. Once the referral is made, we will respond within a few hours or no longer than 24 hours. The admissions process involves an interview with an admissions nurse and sometimes a social worker as well, to discuss what the patient and family can expect.
8. Are there any special changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?
Hospice Brazos Valley staff will assess your needs, recommend any equipment they feel is necessary at the time, and help make arrangements to obtain that equipment.
9. Must someone be with the patient at all times?
In the early stages of care, it is usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient at all times. As the disease progresses and changes are noted by family members and hospice staff, it will become necessary for round-the-clock care. Since one of the most common fears of terminally-ill patients is dying alone, we will generally recommend someone be there continuously when these changes begin. Family, friends or hired caregivers can provide most of the care, but we also have a staff of willing volunteers to assist with running everyday errands or to provide a break for the primary caregivers.
10. Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying, but sees it as a natural process. The Hospice Brazos Valley team provides the presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process, and is honored and humbled to share this most challenging part of a patient's life.
11. Is caring for the patient at home the only place hospice care can be delivered?
No. Hospice patients can receive care in their own homes, nursing homes or assisted living facilities, hospital hospice units and inpatient hospice centers.
12. How does hospice “manage pain”?
Hospice Brazos Valley doctors and nurses are well educated on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom control. We also believe that emotional issues and spiritual concerns need as much attention as physical pain and address each accordingly.
13. Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what's happening?
It is the goal of Hospice Brazos Valley to relieve the patient's pain and to keep them as alert as possible. Frequent consultations with the patient, family and physician help us to be successful in reaching this important goal.
14. Is hospice affiliated with any religious organization?
While some hospices were established by churches or religious groups, these hospices serve a broad community and do not require patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs. Hospice Brazos Valley Chaplains serve in a non-denominational capacity, and are trained to honor the beliefs and rituals of each patient's spiritual beliefs.
15. Who pays for hospice care?
Medicare, Medicaid in most states, The Department of Veterans Affairs, most private insurance plans, HMO's and other managed care organizations pay for hospice care. Along with this, community contributions, memorials, donations and foundation support allow Hospice Brazos Valley to provide care to patients who can't afford payment. Hospice Brazos Valley will not deny access to care or limit the care you receive due to your ability to pay for hospice services. Hospice Brazos Valley will not engage in any collection procedures or place undue financial hardship upon you during this very difficult time.
16. If the patient is eligible for Medicare, will there be any additional expense to be paid?
No. The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers the full scope of medical and support services for a life-limiting illness.
17. If the patient is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will hospice still provide care?
Yes. Hospice Brazos Valley will assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of and provides care to all people who qualify for service without regard to race, age, faith, diagnosis or ability to pay for services.
18. Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
Hospice Brazos Valley provides continuing contact and support to caregivers for at least a year following the death of a loved one. We also sponsor bereavement groups and support for anyone in the community who has experienced a death of a family member, a friend, or similar losses, whether or not our services were used.
For more information regarding Hospice Brazos Valley, please call 1-800-824-2326.