How soon should I begin talking about hospice with my family?
There is no better time than now. Although end-of-life planning can be difficult to discuss, sharing your thoughts with family members can help assure that you will receive the care you want.
Advance care planning is important. Advance care planning means knowing your treatment options and your values, talking with loved ones about the future, and then writing down your wishes.
How important is early referral for hospice care?
Early referral is very important. The longer the relationship with hospice, the more effective we can be.
Too often we are called in the very last days of life when the patient is near death and the family is exhausted and overwhelmed. In such instances, both the patient and the family have lost many opportunities for a better end-of-life experience.
What should I do if I think my family member needs hospice?
Anyone can call and inquire about hospice services. A nurse or social worker will review our services and answer your questions. We will be more than happy to assist you with the process concerning future needs over the phone or even make a home visit.
Does Medicare and Medicaid pay for hospice care?
Yes. The reimbursement we receive from both programs for those who elect the special hospice benefits pays nearly all of the costs for covered hospice services. The Medicare and Medicaid hospice benefit also pays for items not normally covered by the regular Medicare and Medicaid programs, including the cost of medications related to the patient’s hospice diagnosis and durable medical equipment such as electric beds, walkers and wheelchairs. Room and board charges in our Tucker Hospice House may be covered by private insurance. Many private insurance policies have a hospice benefit that covers most charges, less deductibles and co-insurance.
How often do nurses and other staff members visit the patient?
Regular visits by a hospice-trained registered nurse are made at least once a week. These visits, approximately one hour long, are used to check vital signs, administer medications and discuss symptoms and any other patient and family concerns. More frequent visits are made, if needed. Other care team members, including medical social workers, volunteers, certified nursing assistants, grief counselors and chaplains make regular or periodic visits, depending on the unique care plan developed for each patient. Many of these visits also are on a regularly scheduled weekly basis.
Are hospice services available after normal business hours?
Yes! We are on call seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Our nurses are available to answer questions by phone on nights and weekends, and will respond to a call for help within minutes, if necessary. We also have other staff members available, including chaplains and medical social workers, when emergency support is needed.
What’s our success rate in controlling pain?
Our success is high. We combine medications and counseling that enable most patients to attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them.
Are volunteers screened?
Yes. Before volunteers begin our extensive training, they are interviewed by our volunteer coordinator and asked to complete specially designed questionnaires that assess their feelings and sensitivity. We perform the same background checks as we do on employees, and provide regular in-service training to maintain and update each volunteer’s skills.