Hospice FAQs

Find answers to common hospice-related questions here.

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Does going on hospice mean giving up?
Hospice does not mean that you or your medical professionals are giving up. Hospice is a change of focus to a different set of goals - comfort and quality of life. Comfort care includes physical therapy, spiritual and emotional support, companionship and even the granting of life-long wishes. Hospice gives the patient and their family the opportunity to enjoy life and celebrate the bonds and memories they share.

Watch video: Does Going on Hospice Mean Giving Up?

Does a patient have to go to a hospice facility in order to receive care?
Hospice services can be provided at any number of locations, including most retirement and assisted living facilities. Because comfort and tranquility are the goals, great effort is taken to keep patients in place and prevent stresses involved with hospital readmissions or relocations to a dedicated hospice facility. Silverado does not operate hospice facilities. Our hospice teams work on-site at patients’ residences, be they a private home, assisted living or other facility. 

Is hospice care expensive? Is hospice care free? Does insurance cover hospice costs? 
Hospice is funded by Medicare, Medicaid and also by most individual insurers. Hospice coverage is available to anyone that has a six-month or less terminal prognosis. The costs associated with most medications and therapies that relieve pain and provide comfort are covered as a part of hospice. Hospice services can actually remove some financial burden families or responsible parties, who may otherwise need to pay out-of-pocket for medications or equipment like beds or wheelchairs.

Does hospice mean losing existing care or benefits?
No. A patient who goes on hospice does not lose the ongoing care they are receiving for things like vision, dental, diabetes and more. A hospice representative should be able to help you understand more about how hospice care interacts with existing insurance and benefits.

Does going on hospice mean switching doctors?
A skilled hospice team is assembled to cover all aspects of end-of-life care. That said, a patient’s relationship with their doctor is a very important one and familiarity is vital and helpful. The Silverado Hospice team is experienced in working with patients’ existing doctors to facilitate comfort for both patients and their families.

What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?
In its simplest terms, hospice care is for patients who have been given a prognosis of death within six months while palliative care is for those with life-limiting or chronic conditions. The care philosophy of ensuring comfort is still at the core of both, but with palliative care it is delivered alongside curative treatments.  

Watch videos: What is Hospice? and What is Palliative Care?

Does hospice mean euthanasia? Will hospice make my loved one die sooner?
The goal of hospice is to provide comfort as the natural process of dying takes its course. In no way is there any effort or intention to hasten a patient’s death while on hospice, just to provide comfort while the patient’s journey comes to an end. 

What kinds of medications are used for hospice?
Drugs to reduce or eliminate pain can be prescribed by a hospice provider, which may include morphine. Existing medications are removed on a per-case basis, taking into account factors such as drug interactions, quality of life and the family’s wishes. Silverado hospice associates will make every effort to explain changes in medication to a patient’s loved ones.

Will morphine cause a hospice patient to become sleepy or not “be themselves?”
Controlling pain is vitally important to allowing a patient to die with grace and dignity, and so is allowing the patient and their family a chance to share their remaining moments.  Morphine is a proven medication that, in most cases, allows both to happen. Upon starting a drug like morphine a patient may experience some initial drowsiness, but after a few days the body builds up resistance to the sedating effects. Most patients whose pain is being successfully controlled by morphine do not have a problem with unusual sleepiness. However, there is a percent of patients whose alertness may decrease, leading them to choose an alternative method of pain control that may be less effective. 

Is hospice constant care? Does hospice provide 24 hour caregivers?
Except for exceptional circumstances involving 24 hour care for pain management or other acute conditions, most hospice cases involve periodic visits from doctors, nurses, volunteers and other team members. Care for the patient must still be provided predominantly by family or caregivers at the facility where they reside. 

How long are the hospice team’s visits?
Visits from the hospice team can vary greatly depending on the patient’s conditions and needs, so it is not possible to give an accurate estimate. It is best to plan to address your needs and observations prior to the team member’s arrival to make the most of their visit. 

How often will team members visit?
Frequency of visits by team members depends upon the patient’s needs and condition, as well as the number of hospice programs the patient opts to receive or is eligible for. As a guideline it is best to assume that the nurse will visit twice weekly with periodic visits from other team members.

How long is the hospice benefit?
Medicare covers six months of hospice care initially, to match the six-month prognosis required for hospice to start. However, treatment can be renewed for as long as doctors believe that the patient has less than six months to live.

Can a person leave hospice?
A patient or their family have the right to stop hospice at any time to resume curative care. Alternatively, some hospice patients can actually “graduate” off hospice if their life expectation goes beyond six months.

What does it mean to graduate from hospice?
Occasionally a patient’s condition will show a marked improvement while they are on hospice. This can happen for any number of reasons, but if doctors believe the patient will live past six months then hospice care is stopped and the patient is said to have graduated.

Can a person receive hospice while continuing curative treatments?
By definition, hospice is focused on care of a palliative nature. When starting hospice, curative treatments are stopped in favor of comfort measures. As an alternative to hospice Silverado offers the Palliative Transitions program, which is designed to provide resources and support to individuals and families dealing with a life-limiting illness but who may still be seeking aggressive treatment.

How does hospice care start?
When a physician makes a prognosis that a patient has six months or less to live they may place an order for hospice care. At this point a hospice provider can be contacted to start the hospice admission process (please note that “admission” refers to the start of service and does not necessarily reflect the patient being physically admitted to facility or new location).

Can I ask for hospice?
If your loved one has a terminal condition and you think they may benefit from hospice care then we encourage you to speak to their physician about hospice. Some doctors are familiar with hospice and suggest is readily, but others may not be as familiar with its benefits and less likely to recommend it. 

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General Information

For a brief explanation of what is involved in hospice care, please click here.

Hospice FAQ Videos

Hospice FAQ Video

Dr. Siouty, Silverado Beach Cities Medical Director, shares his thoughts on comfort care and hospice.

Hospice FAQ Video

Medical expert, Doctor Roosth shares his insight on hospice and end-of-life care.

Hospice FAQ Video

Silverado Fort Worth Medical Director, Doctor Sarah E. Ross shares her expertise on hospice care. 

Hospice FAQ Video

Dr. Walter Nieri, Medical Director at the Silverado Peoria Memory Care Community in Arizona, explains when hospice should be considered.

Hospice FAQ Video

Dr. Nieri discusses what hospice means in the larger context of a patient's ongoing care.

Hospice FAQ Video

Dr. Siouty elaborates on the purpose and goals of hospice, explaining many aspects that are often misunderstood about it. 

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