Understanding Hospice

November 2016 Chatterbox
October 30, 2016
Featured Resident – Jackie Newman
November 2, 2016

Understanding Hospice

By Wanda Kelsey-Mendez, NorthCare Hospice & Palliative Care

                                The word “hospice” can be scary to people who have not experienced this type of care and don’t truly understand what it means. Some people think it’s about the last few days of life. But, that could not be further from the truth.

Hospice is a family-centered approach to care at the end of life that focuses on making every day count. It’s provided with a team of experts that bring as much or as little care as you want to you and your family. Hospice can be provided wherever you want to live – at home, in assisted living or at a long-term care facility.

Hospice is offered when the focus shifts away from treatment to comfort and support. It generally begins when life expectancy is in months rather than years. Hospice allows you to choose where you want to spend the last months of your life and how you want to be treated during this time.


Hospice provides:

  • Expert management of symptoms like pain, nausea, shortness of breath, insomnia and anxiety
  • Services for people of every age, from babies and children to adults
  • Team approach to your care that gives you more knowledge and expertise
  • Emotional and spiritual support for you and your family
  • Volunteers to help with things that are not covered by insurance, like companionship, time off for caregivers, errands, pet care and more
  • Care that comes to you where you live
  • Your choice in what care you want to receive and a promise to honor your wishes
  • You can change your mind at any time


When you choose hospice, a personalized hospice team will work with you and your family to understand what is most important to you and to honor your wishes. Dealing with your physical needs is just part of the challenge. You and your family also have to deal with stress, anxiety, emotions and spiritual needs.

But, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. When you begin hospice care, you open the door to a full range of options that are designed to enhance your life, get you the care you need and ease emotional and spiritual distress for you and your family.

People don’t like to be in the hospital, but when you’re dealing with serious illness, you may find yourself back and forth to the emergency room, in and out of the hospital, back and forth to various doctor’s offices. It’s all very exhausting for you and your family. Studies have shown that hospice care reduces time in the hospital and helps avoid emergency room visits. In fact, many hospice patients actually live longer.


What hospice does:

  • Coordinate your care – work with your doctor to establish a plan of care and communicate with all of your medical providers
  • Keep you comfortable – help control pain, shortness of breath, nausea, tiredness, trouble sleeping and other symptoms
  • Monitor your condition – regularly assess your condition and recommend adjustments in care that might be needed
  • Provide personal care – assist when needed with bathing, dressing and other personal care
  • Answer questions – help you and your family understand your illness and your options at every stage of your disease
  • Help you make choices – give you more information and help discuss choices with you and your family
  • Ease fear and anxiety – give emotional and spiritual support to you and your family
  • Handle the details – coordinate care with your doctor and other health care providers, including equipment needs
  • Be available – make regular visits and be on call 24 hours a day, every day for questions and visits
  • Your care team makes regular home visits and you can choose the services that you want. Your team can include nurses, doctors, hospice aides, social workers, chaplains, art or music therapists, volunteers and more.

What does it cost?

Hospice care is covered by Medicare and most private insurance plans. In most cases, there is little or no deductible and no out-of-pocket costs.

Don’t Wait

One thing I hear so often from families is that they wish they had called sooner. People who seek assistance early in their diagnosis have more options, more support, better quality of life, a chance to make decisions on how they want to be treated, and time to build trusting relationships with their caregivers. In fact, hospice can hel