Frequently asked questions
Why choose Hospice Brazos Valley?
Hospice Brazos Valley (HBV) is the only nonprofit hospice serving a 17 county area in Central Texas. Our non-profit status means that patient care, not profit, is our top priority. In addition, we care for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. Founded in 1989, we have the longest history of providing exceptional life affirming hospice care in our service area. Our competitors have often referred to us as “the gold standard” in hospice care. HBV is nationally accredited from the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP) and is the only hospice in our service area to achieve Elite status in the Hospice Honors program. HBV’s medical director is board certified in hospice and palliative care and several members of our nursing and care team are certified in hospice and palliative care (CHPN). HBV prides itself in consistently exceeding national benchmarks. Comfort is our specialty. Trust is our promise.
What is hospice care?
Hospice care provides medical, emotional, and spiritual comfort and support to you and your family when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments. Hospice care’s priorities are to maximize your quality of life, help you to achieve your goals, and control the symptoms that can cause pain and discomfort.
Is hospice a place?
No, hospice is not a place.
Hospice care can take place wherever you call home.
Is hospice only for patients with cancer?
Hospice care is available to all terminally ill individuals and their families, regardless of diagnosis. Some of the most common non-cancer diagnoses are congestive heart failure, dementia, chronic lung disease, or other cerebral or neurological conditions.
Who provides hospice care?
Hospice Brazos Valley serves patients through the care of a set of highly skilled professionals and community partners. Our priority is to develoop a unique care plan to suit your specific needs, wishes, and values. This comprehensive plan of care is directed by the patient and administered by your hospice care team which may include, but is not limited to, your physician, our medical director, hospice nurses, social workers, hospice care aides, chaplains, bereavement coordinators, and trained hospice volunteers. Together with your hospice care team, you and your family can regain control over what may seem uncontrollable. Receiving effective pain and symptom management, education, and support, allows patients and families to focus on what is truly important; celebrating life and spending quality time together.
Can I keep my own doctor?
When beginning hospice care, three physician care options are available to you.
Your physician can fully direct your hospice care.
Hospice Brazos Valley’s medical director can work in cooperation with your physician to provide consultation, support, and supplemental services.
Hospice Brazos Valley’s medical director can fully manage your care should you not have an attending physician, or should your physician feel it is in your best interest to have your care directed by our medical director.
If you have a primary care physician, we recommend that you speak with him or her to determine which option is best for you.
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 and is no longer seeking curative treatments.
When is the right time to start hospice care?
If you are choosing to no longer seek curative treatment for your chronic or terminal illness and are experiencing a poor quality of life, needing assistance with decision making, or would prefer to receive care in the home, it may be time to explore hospice care. At your request, a Hospice Brazos Valley team member can come to you to answer questions and provide free information regarding hospice care. Studies have shown that sooner is always better when it comes to seeking hospice care. A 2007 study that looked at Medicare beneficiaries with some of the most common diagnoses leading to death, found that patients who received hospice services lived on average, 29 days longer than those who did not receive hospice care. This study, published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (March 2007) looked at 4,493 terminally ill patients with either congestive heart failure or cancer of the breast, colon, lung, pancreas, or prostate.
What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?
The simple answer is that palliative care is for patients with chronic or terminal illnesses that are still continuing to seek curative treatments and hospice care is for those discontinuing curative treatments. Palliative care should be discussed when your life expectancy is limited to years, but you are making multiple trips to the ER, have been admitted to the hospital several times within the last year or still desire to seek curative treatments. Hospice care should be discussed when curative treatments no longer produce positive results and your life is limited to months rather than years. Hospice Brazos Valley offers both hospice and palliative care options to suit your specific needs and goals.
Should I wait for our doctor to address the need for hospice or can I bring it up 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. Or, should you prefer, you can call Hospice Brazos Valley to request a free informational visit with one of our knowledgeable team members. We can come to you and will answer questions and provide information regarding your hospice care options.
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 does the hospice offer other services beyond those that are required; what are the options for inpatient care; are their medical staff members certified in hospice and palliative care; what do those in the community say about this hospice; how many years of experience do 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? Non-profit hospices are community supported and therefore often offer an enhanced level of service that some for-profit agencies do not.
Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment or start seeking curative care again?
Absolutely. The decision to continue hospice services always 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.
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. Our consultations are free and can be done either in our office or our team can come to you.
What does the hospice admission process involve?
One of the first things we will do is contact the patient's personal physician to verify that hospice care is appropriate for the patient. Once the referral is made, we will respond within 24 hours. The admissions process starts with an appointment with a Hospice Brazos Valley admissions nurse to to discuss hospice services, answer questions, and address expectations. This appointment can be done in your home or at our office.
Are there any special changes I have to make in my home before hospice care can begin?
Usually not. Hospice Brazos Valley staff will assess your needs, recommend any medical equipment they feel is necessary at the time, and help make arrangements to obtain that equipment. In most cases we can arrange for the equipment to be delivered to your home.
Must someone from hospice 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. Because 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. Hospice Brazos Valley also has a team of willing volunteers to assist with running everyday errands or to provide a break for the primary caregivers.
Does hospice care do anything that would make a patient's death come sooner?
Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying, but sees it as a natural process. The Hospice Brazos Valley team provides a knowledgeable presence and specialized care during the dying process. We are honored and humbled to serve during this most challenging and significant part of a patient's life.
Is the home the only place in which hospice care can be delivered?
No. Hospice patients can receive care wherever they call home. Care can take place in their own homes, a family member’s home, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospital hospice units.
How does hospice treat and manage a patient's pain?
Hospice Brazos Valley doctors and nurses are well educated on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom control. Each patient is unique and therefore each care plan is individualized to suit the patient’s needs and goals. We also believe that emotional issues and spiritual concerns need as much attention as physical pain and we address each accordingly.
Will medications hospice administers prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what is happening around them?
It is the goal of Hospice Brazos Valley to ease 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.
Is hospice affiliated with any religious organization?
Hospice Brazos Valley is not affiliated with any church or religious organization. Our chaplains serve in a non-denominational capacity, and are trained to honor the beliefs and rituals of each patient's spiritual beliefs.
Does hospice provide any help to the family after the death of a patient?
Yes. Hospice Brazos Valley provides continuing contact and support to caregivers for at least a year following the death of a loved one. We also provide grief support groups, classes, and events available to all in the community who have experienced a death of a loved one whether or not our services were used.
Who pays for hospice care?
Medicare and 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 endowment 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.
If the patient is eligible for Medicare, will there be additional expenses to be paid?
No. The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers the full scope of medical and support services for a life-limiting illness.
If the patient is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will Hospice Brazos Valley 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. Hospice Brazos Valley is the only non-profit serving a 17 county area. Our non-profit status means that community contributions, memorials, donations and endowment 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.