Article Series

10 Things to Know About Hospice and Hospice Home Care

Article submitted by Rebecca Sharp Colmer: Eldercare Advocate, Author, Publisher, Speaker. Find Rebecca’s books online.
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There are a lot of misconceptions about hospice. Often people don't know about the reality of hospice until they really need it, and by then are in the midst of an overwhelming family crisis.

  1. Hospice care is provided to terminally ill individuals and their families. The focus of hospice is care, not cure. Think of it as subset of palliative care. It is a program of supportive care services providing physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care for dying persons, their families and loved ones.
  2. Most hospice services are available in both the home and in-patient settings. Hospice home care is provided either on a part time, intermittent, regularly scheduled, or around the clock basis.
  3. In the United States, hospice patients have received a terminal diagnosis and generally have less than six months to live.
  4. According to the Hospice foundation of America, there are over 3000 hospices in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of hospice patients are over age 65.
  5. Hospice care is a covered benefit under Medicare and is funded by Medicaid in at least 36 states.
  6. Caring for a dying person at home my have its rewards, but is not for everyone.
  7. People receiving home hospice care do not necessarily die sooner than those receiving traditional hospital care.
  8. Home hospice tries to support the family's traditional strengths and coping skills in the face of a crisis.
  9. Hospice care and caring do not cease when the patient dies. Hospice bereavement support continues.
  10. Home health agencies are generally considered functionally the type of healthcare provider closest to hospice, but there are some crucial differences between typical home health agency services and true hospice care.

Hospice programs don't and can't expect patients to be accepting of their dying. However, it is hoped that the patients and families will learn to trust and benefit from the hospice team.