Common Questions About Hospice Care

When can someone start receiving hospice care?

May the patient stay at home? Should they?

What happens once the patient is in hospice?

How do I find the best hospice program ?

When Can Someone Start Receiving Hospice Care?

hospice care sunsetOnce a doctor states that a patient has a terminal illness and death is expected within six months or less. A patient may stay longer than six months if the doctor and the hospice team continue to believe that there is only a short time is remaining.

Hospice is not a permanent choice. The patient always has the option of changing their mind and returning to active treatment. You may also get better unexpectedly, quit hospice care, but reserve the right to return at a later time.

You may enter a program if your doctor states that you have a terminal illness and that death can be expected in 6 months or less. You can stay in hospice beyond that time if your doctor and the team decide you still have only a short time to live.

May the Patient Stay at Home? Should They?

There are four levels of care provided by hospice. Two of which happen at home.

  1. Routine Home Care – includes nursing and home health aide services.
  2. Continuous Home Care – provided when a patient needs continuous nursing care.
  3. General Inpatient Care – short-term care during times when pain and symptoms can’t be managed at home.
  4. Respite Care – short-term care in a facility during times when the patient’s caregiver needs a break.

At a time like this, most patients would prefer being at home. Things are familiar, and friends and family are available for support. Hospice care makes being at home an option.


What Happens Once the Patient is in Hospice?

The Hospice Care Team will meet with patient and their support group. A plan will be tailored to the patient’s needs. The focus will be on relieving pain and reducing symptoms. The Hospice Care Team will check on you regularly and someone is available 24 hours/day, 7 days a week.

A doctor – either your own or one connected with the Hospice Care Team – will provide medical care. Aides will be provided to assist with daily tasks such as bathing, cleaning, dressing, and cooking.

Other services are also available including:

  • Medication to ease pain and symptoms
  • Counseling and support for the patient and family by Social Workers and/or Chaplain.
  • Dietary advice
  • Medical equipment and supplies
  • Physical and speech therapy

How Do I Find a Program?

Start by asking doctors, nurses, and friends for ideas. Hospice care has touched the lives of many and it’s likely you already know someone who has direct knowledge of a Hospice program near you. This site can only provide a start to see what agencies are near you. Do your research to confirm what the best option is for the patient and family.