Ten Myths About Hospice Care
Myth #1: Hospice is a place.
Fact: Hospice is a philosophy of care providing medical, emotional, and spiritual care that is focused on comfort and quality of life. Hospice care usually takes place where the patient calls home. This may be their personal home, a group home, an assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility. In certain situations, hospice care can be provided in a hospital for a brief period of time.
Myth #2: If you go on hospice, you will die soon.
Fact: Receiving hospice does not mean that death is imminent. Studies have shown that patients who elect hospice care earlier often live longer than those who continue to receive curative treatment. Hospice care is designed for patients who have a life expectancy of approximately six months or less. However, as long as the patient continues to meet hospice requirements, they may continue to receive services – even if this is longer than six months.
Myth #3: Hospice means giving up hope
Fact: Hospice redefines hope and helps patients and their families reclaim the spirit of life. Hospice care focuses on improving the patient’s quality of life allowing them to make the most of the time they have.
Myth #4: Choosing hospice means giving up all medical treatment
Fact: Hospice makes the patient’s quality of life the focal point of care. Hospice professionals are trained to provide care and treatments that lessen the patient’s pain and other symptoms. Hospice strives to decrease the burden of medical treatment when such measures would not improve the patient’s quality of life. For some patients this may mean decreasing the number of medications taken for chronic conditions.
Myth #5: Hospice provides 24-hour care
Fact: The hospice team visits on an intermittent basis. This team includes physicians, nurses, social workers, hospice aides, chaplains and other specially trained care providers. The frequency of visits is determined by the patient’s needs. A hospice RN is on call 24 hours a day/7 days a week to answer questions and provide support. After hours visits are made as needed.
Myth #6: You have to have Medicare or Medicaid in order to receive hospice care.
Fact: In addition to Medicare and Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations recognize the value of hospice care and include hospice coverage in their plans. Additionally, some hospices provide charity care to patients who do not have insurance coverage or the ability to pay for their care.
Myth #7: Once a patient chooses hospice, he or she can no longer receive care from their primary physician.
Fact: Hospice works closely with the patient’s primary care physician as a member of the hospice team. The patient can continue to see their primary care physician.
Myth #8: My doctor will tell me when it is time to consider hospice.
Fact: Most physicians have had little hospice training and are uncomfortable talking about death. It is important for you to take control of your healthcare decisions, and seek options when the time is right for you and your loved ones.
Myth #9: The hospital discharge planner, the social worker or my physician selects my hospice agency for me.
Fact: It is the patient’s, or their designated decision maker’s, right to determine when hospice care is right for them and which agency they would like to use. Others may recommend agencies for you to consider, but it is up to you to make the final decision. Not all hospice providers are the same, and it is important to receive the care that best fits your desires and needs.
Myth #10: Once I am on hospice, I can’t change my mind.
Fact: You can stop hospice services at any time and for any reason. You can change your mind and resume aggressive treatment. Then if you wish to return to hospice care later, you can do so as long as you meet the medical hospice admission requirement.