What do you do when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal or life-limiting illness?
There is no right or wrong way to feel. It’s normal to feel shock, fear, anger, resentment, denial, helplessness, sadness, frustration, relief, and acceptance.
“Hospice” is a term that evokes fear in many people. But, it shouldn’t be that way. Once you experience the comfort and support that it offers and the loving way in which it’s delivered – hospice can be a beautiful experience.
CHP Hospice offers services to meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs—this may take place at home or at a nursing home, assisted living center, or at our inpatient hospice center. When a cure is not possible and aggressive treatment isn’t desired, hospice care offers symptom relief, pain control, and support for families.
What is Hospice?
CHP Hospice provides support to those with a terminal illness who no longer benefit from curative treatment and have a life expectancy of six months or less if the illness runs its normal course. Hospice recognizes dying as a part of life. Care is focused on maintaining the quality of life remaining rather than the length of life. Hospice affirms life and neither hastens or postpones death.
- Hospice serves patients of all ages
- Terminal diagnosis can be from any disease, not just cancer
- Hospice is not limited to six months; a patient can stay on hospice as long as it’s appropriate
What Hospice Does?
- Hospice focuses on pain and symptom control.
- Treats the person, not the disease. Besides providing for the patient’s medical needs, the hospice team ministers to the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of the patient and family.
- Provides care to the entire family. CHP Hospice nurses provide educational support and assistance to family caregivers. Trained volunteers may also be available for respite and assistance.
- Offers support during and after. In addition to regular nursing visits, a hospice nurse is on-call 24 hours to assist families when needed. Bereavement groups are available to provide support and encouragement after a loved one’s passing.
How Hospice Works
Services are provided under the direction of the patient’s doctor or CHP Hospice medical director. Most patients receive hospice care at home, but it’s also available at area nursing and assisted living facilities, and at the CHP Inpatient Hospice Center.
When to Consider Hospice
- When pain and/or symptoms are not under control
- When you no longer wish to pursue curative treatments
- Making frequent visits to the hospital or emergency room
- Continued weight loss with treatment, frequent infections, severe shortness of breath, persistent, severe chest pain
- Patients may choose to start and stop hospice care at any time
- There is no limit on how many days you can be on hospice
How is Hospice Paid For?
- Hospice is 100% covered for patients with Medicare Part A
- Hospice is also covered by Medicaid and most insurance policies
- Hospice is a veteran’s benefit
- As a nonprofit agency, CHP Hospice works with patients and families with financial and coverage deficiencies
- Pain and Symptom Management: CHP Hospice nurses are experts at end-of-life pain and symptom management specialists. Nurses are on-call 24 hours a day and 24-hour hospice care is provided at CHP’s Inpatient Hospice Center
- Medications, Medical Equipment & Supplies are covered. The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers all medications related to the hospice diagnosis
- Continuous Care for intermittent care of up to 24 hours (8 hrs. for RN) by a hospice staff member, generally during periods of a crisis for management of complicated medical and emotional symptoms
- Inpatient Hospice Care when pain and symptom management cannot be managed in the home
- Respite Care is provided for up to 5 days in order to allow caregivers time away from caregiving responsibilities. CHP Inpatient Hospice Center can be utilized for respite care needs.
How to Get Started with CHP Hospice
Whether you know you need hospice care or you just need to know more, we’re here to answer questions and provide support.
If you have questions or an immediate need, please call your nearest CHP office.
Complete a referral
Anyone can make a referral to CHP Hospice. It starts with a phone call to us. In order to be admitted, the patient must have a physician’s order. We will reach out to the patient’s health care provider in order to get the necessary information to initiate services.
Have an initial visit
At this visit, the patient and caregivers will work with a hospice nurse to complete an assessment, determine a place of care, order medications and begin the patient’s personalized plan of care (POC).
Frequently Asked Questions
When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made, and who should make it?
It’s appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including hospice, at any time during a life-limiting illness. By law, the decision belongs to the patient. Understandably, most people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping aggressive efforts to “beat” the disease. Hospice staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and always available to discuss them with the patient and family.
What does the hospice admission process involve?
One of the first things we will do is contact the patient’s physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for this patient at this time. (We also have physicians available to help patients who don’t have their own.) The patient will be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital.
The hospice election form says that the patient understands that the care is palliative (meaning that is aimed at pain relief and symptom control) rather than curative. It also outlines the services available. The form Medicare patients sign also tells how electing the Medicare hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage.
Is hospice affiliated with any religious organization?
No. CHP Hospice is an independent, community-based, hospice. We offer pastoral care and spiritual counseling and recognize its importance to both the patient and family. We serve a broad community and do not ask patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs.
Will my advance directives be honored by CHP Hospice?
Yes. It is your right to choose your advance directives. We do not require a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, but we provide advance directives resources and we will review all options with you.
May I still use my regular doctor?
Yes. We encourage you to continue seeing your primary care physician. Our team continues to communicate with your primary care physician while you receive our care.
Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
Yes. If the patient’s condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on with their daily life. If the discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private insurance will allow additional coverage for this purpose.
What will happen if I outlive my prognosis?
We continue to provide the same care for you as long as you remain hospice eligible.
Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of childbirth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.
How does hospice manage pain?
Hospice nurses and doctors are up to date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. In addition, physical and occupational therapists can assist patients to be as mobile and self-sufficient as they wish, and they may be joined by specialists in music ministry and massage therapy. Because CHP Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, medical social workers, trained volunteers and clergy are available to assist patients and family members.
What is hospice's success rate in battling pain?
Very high. Using a combination of medications and therapies, most patients can attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them.
Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what's happening?
Usually not. It is our goal to keep the patient as pain-free and alert as possible. By constantly consulting with the patient, CHP Hospice has been very successful in reaching this goal.
Home Hospice Care
How often will the hospice team visit when I am at home?
Your hospice nurse and other team members will make visits on a schedule based on your needs. The frequency of visits depends on your condition and is increased or decreased as needed.
What if I have an emergency in the middle of the night?
CHP Hospice nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?
Hospice patients are cared for by a team of physicians, nurses, social workers, health aides, clergy, therapists and volunteers. Each provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, we provide medications, supplies and equipment related to the terminal illness.
Is there any special equipment or change I need to make in my home before hospice care begins?
CHP Hospice will assess your needs, recommend any equipment and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the illness progresses. In general, hospice will assist in any way it can to make home care as convenient, clean and safe as possible.
How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?
There’s no set number. One of the first things the hospice team will do is to prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of caregiving needed by the patient. Hospice staff visit regularly and are always accessible to answer medical questions, provide support and teach caregivers.
Must someone be with the patient at all times?
In the early weeks of care, it’s usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. Later, however, since one of the most common fears of patients is the fear of dying alone, hospice generally recommends someone be there continuously. While family and friends do deliver most of the care, we may provide volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time away for primary caregivers. While no one from CHP Hospice will move into your home, we will work with you to establish the frequency of visits from your hospice care team members that meet your unique needs.
Is caring for the patient at home the only place hospice care can be delivered?
No. Although most hospice patient time is spent in a personal residence, hospice may be delivered in nursing homes and assisted living facilities or at the CHP Inpatient Hospice Center.