Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hospice Care?

  • What is Hospice?
What is Hospice?

Hospice is a special type of care for patients with a life-limiting illness, and for their caregivers and families.  Hospice care is focused on quality of life for someone whose illness is unlikely to be cured.

  • Hospice care uses doctors, nurses, social and spiritual care works, bereavement specialists, volunteers and home health aides to address the patient’s needs holistically, whether physical, emotional, social or spiritual.
  • Hospice care also helps the patient’s family caregivers.
  • Hospice care takes place in the patient’s home, whether that be a personal residence, a nursing home, assisted living facility or other home-like setting.
  • Hospice care concentrates on managing a patient’s pain and other symptoms so that the patient may live as comfortably as possible, rather than on curing the patient’s condition.
  • The hospice philosophy is that quality of life is as important as length of life.
  • Who is eligible for hospice?
Who is eligible for hospice?

In order to be eligible to elect hospice care under Medicare, an individual must be entitled to Part A of Medicare and be certified as being terminally ill by a physician, with a disease whose prognosis is six months or less if it runs its normal course.

There is no exhaustive, black-and-white list of conditions which make a patient hospice-appropriate. Your physician or Inspiring Hospice representative will help you to navigate your individual condition and questions, but the following is a list of diseases and conditions which can often entitle a patient to hospice care:  heart disease, lung disease, AIDS, cancer, ALS, congestive heart failure, Alzheimer’s, coma, COPD, dementia, diabetes, emphysema, liver failure, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, renal failure and stroke.

If you are experiencing any of the following, hospice may be able to restore some quality of life:

  • Frequent trips to the ER or hospitalization
  • Frequent or reoccurring infections
  • Reduced appetite, weight loss and changes in body composition
  • Rapid decline in health over the past six months, even with aggressive medical treatments
  • Uncontrolled pain, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting
  • Decreasing alertness, increased sleeping or mental confusion
  • Difficulty with daily routines and tasks as eating, walking, using the bathroom, personal cleaning or getting dressed
  • Decision to focus on comfort care

  • Where do I go to receive hospice care?
Where do I go to receive hospice care?

Hospice is a philosophy, not a place.  Hospice care was originally intended to be provided in the patient’s home – whether a private residence or a nursing home or similar facility.  IHG has provided hospice care in every conceivable setting, from private, modern assisted living facilities, to such temporary or non-traditional accommodations as a converted bus!

Inspiring Hospice Group accepts patients who live alone. However, a caregiver must be available as needed, and part of the admission and ongoing care process is to plan and prepare for the time in a patient’s illness when 24-hour a day care will be necessary.

In the course of in-home hospice care, it may be appropriate for a patient to be hospitalized, either to control pain or symptoms, or to offer necessary respite to the patient’s caregivers.   The hospice benefit can accommodate and often pay for these needs.

  • How long does hospice care last?
How long does hospice care last?

There is no limit to the length of time that Medicare and most insurance providers will continue to pay for hospice care, as long as the patient continues to qualify for hospice.

  • Who provides hospice care?
Who provides hospice care?

Hospice agencies are run by private companies and sometimes, by non-profits – all under contractual arrangements with Medicare and insurance providers.  Hospice care is provided by doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, health aides, bereavement counselors and volunteers. This group is referred to as an interdisciplinary team, which is headed by a Medical Director.

  • What services does hospice provide?
What services does hospice provide?

Hospice services are tailored to meet the specific needs of a patient and his or her family and caregivers, but typical services include visits from nurses and other healthcare professionals, pain and symptom relief, personal care, spiritual and emotional support for both the patient and his or her caregivers, bereavement counseling and dietary consultation.  Hospice care pays for all medications that are related to the terminal condition and recommended by the hospice physician, and for any supplies and durable medical equipment deemed necessary by the hospice team.

  • Who pays for hospice?
Who pays for hospice?

Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance companies. Services related to the terminal illness, such as medication, equipment and supplies, are covered by hospice benefits, with little or no cost to the patient.

  • What if I change my mind about hospice? Can I go to the hospital or seek curative treatment?
What if I change my mind about hospice? Can I go to the hospital or seek curative treatment?

Receiving hospice care is always a choice. A patient may leave hospice and return to curative treatment if that is their choice. If the patient later chooses to return to hospice care, Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance companies permit re-activation of the hospice benefit.

  • How often will I receive care?
How often will I receive care?

The frequency of visits from our nurses, home health aides, spiritual care and bereavement specialists and volunteers is determined in a care plan, in accordance with the needs of the patient.  We will design this plan in consultation with the patient, the caregiver, doctors and nurses upon admission.  We are always on call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

  • Can my regular doctor continue to be involved?
Can my regular doctor continue to be involved?

Yes. If you choose, your physician will be included as an important part of your care team and involved in the development of your care plan.

  • How can I start the process to seek hospice care?
How can I start the process to seek hospice care?

You may ask your physician to refer you, or you may contact your local IHG program if you’d like us to take the first steps. After your physician refers you to hospice care, you and your family will meet with an admissions nurse to determine your needs and arrange for an individualized care plan.