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FAQ’s

Hospice FAQs

When is the right time to ask about hospice?

Now is the best time to learn more about hospice and ask questions about what to expect from hospice services. Although end-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, it is best for family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern. This can greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice is needed. By having these discussions in advance, patients are not forced into uncomfortable situations. Instead, patients can make an educated decision that includes the advice and input of family members and loved ones.

Are there signs that someone might be ready for hospice services?

A worsening in condition or becoming weaker is a sign that hospice care may be beneficial.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with life-limiting illnesses.  It focuses on providing relief from symptoms, pain and the stress of a serious illness.  Patients receiving palliative care can still seek curative treatment.

How does hospice care begin?

Typically, hospice care starts as soon as a formal request or a ‘referral’ is made by the patient’s doctor. Often a hospice program representative will make an effort to visit the patient within 48 hours of that referral, providing the visit meets the needs and schedule of the patient and family/primary caregiver. Usually, hospice care is ready to begin within a day or two of the referral. However, in urgent situations, hospice services may begin sooner.

What is the difference between diagnosis and prognosis?

Diagnosis is the identification of a condition that exists in the present while a prognosis refers to hos a current condition will affect future health.

What services does Beloit Regional Hospice provide?

Beloit Regional Hospice staff work each day to help make each moment of life as full and comfortable as possible by providing compassionate care and dignity to patients and their families.  This is accomplished by ensuring these patients and families have as much control and independence as they desire as the end of life.

  • Pain & Symptom Management
  • Nursing Care
  • Psychological & Emotional Support
  • Spiritual Support
  • Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Volunteers
  • Respite Care
  • Grief Support
  • Physical, Speech & Occupational Therapy
  • Dietary Counseling
  • Medication, Equipment & Supplies Necessary for Illness Management

My parent is living in  a nursing home.  Why would they need hospice care?

The staff at the nursing home are trained to focus on routine care and rehabilitation.  Our patients in nursing homes will receive customized care based on their preferences, which address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of a patient at the end of their life as well as the needs of their family members.

Can you discuss hospice care without mentioning certain terms with a family member, who is not aware of the prognosis?

Our professionals are specifically trained in discussing sensitive matters with patients and their family members.  Members of our care team will begin discussions by asking some leading questions to better understand the individuals knowledge of the situation, before explaining the philosophy of hospice care.

Will I be the only hospice patient that the hospice staff serves?

Every hospice patient has access to a hospice volunteer, registered nurse, social worker, home health aide, and chaplain (also known as the interdisciplinary team). For each patient and family, the interdisciplinary team writes a care plan with the patient/family that is used to make sure the patient and family receive the care they need from the team. Typically, full-time registered nurses provide care to about a dozen different families. Social workers usually work with about twice the number of patients/families as nurses. If needed, home health aides, who provide personal care to the patient, will visit most frequently.

All visits, however, are based on the patient and family needs as described in the care plan and the condition of the patient during the course of illness. The frequency of volunteers and spiritual care is often dependent upon the family request and the availability of these services. Travel requirements and other factors may cause some variation in how many patients each hospice staff serves.

Can my doctor still be my doctor if I begin hospice care?

Yes.  Our nursing staff will regularly communicate with you physicians for needs and changes in condition.

Will our family still be able to make care decisions if our loved one is receiving hospice care?

Yes. Hospice care decisions are first and foremost driven by the patient’s desires.  Care plans are developed to address the medical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of the patient and their loved ones while promoting comfort and a personal sense of control.

What are hospice levels of care?

  • Routine Care – most hospice care falls into this category.
  • Continuous Home Care – provided during a period of crisis and only in the patient’s private home.  A period of crisis is a time when the patient requires a higher level of ‘continuous care’ for at least 8 hours in a 24 hour period of time to achieve management of acute medical symptoms.
  • In-Patient Respite Care – provided to relieve family members of other caregivers that are caring for the patient at home.  Respite does no reqquire a worsening of the patient’s condition.  Respite care is short-term (no more than 5 consecutive days) and must be provided in a contracted Medicare-Certified hospital or skilled nursing facility that has 24-hour nursing.
  • General In-Patient Care – is available for all patient who are in need of pain control or symptom management that cannot be provided in another setting.  Once stabilized, the patient returns to a routine level of care.

Is hospice available after hours?

Hospice care is available ‘on-call’ after the administrative office has closed, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Most hospices have nurses available to respond to a call for help within minutes, if necessary. Some hospice programs have chaplains and social workers on call as well.

Does Beloit Regional Hospice provide around the clock care?

No.  Beloit Regional Hospice does not provide care around the clock.  A designated primary caregiver will be determined (usually a family member or close friend).  Hospice care supplements that care to help share the responsibility of caregiving with regular visits and education from the hospice care team.  There are staff members available after hours, should you need it.

How does hospice work to keep the patient comfortable?

Many patients may have pain and other serious symptoms as their illness progresses. Hospice staff receives special training to care for all types of physical and emotional symptoms that cause pain, discomfort and distress. Because keeping the patient comfortable and pain-free is an important part of hospice care, many hospice programs have developed ways to measure how comfortable the patient is during the course of their stay in hospice. Hospice staff works with the patient’s physician to make sure that medication, therapies, and procedures are designed to achieve the goals outlined in the patient’s care plan. The care plan is reviewed frequently to make sure any changes and new goals are in the plan.

What role does the hospice volunteer serve?

Hospice volunteers are generally available to provide different types of support to patients and their loved ones including running errands, preparing light meals, staying with a patient to give family members a break, and lending emotional support and companionship to patients and family members.

Because hospice volunteers spend time in patients’ and families’ homes, each hospice program generally has an application and interview process to assure the person is right for this type of volunteer work. In addition, hospice programs have an organized training program for their patient care volunteers. Areas covered by these training programs often include understanding hospice, confidentiality, working with families, listening skills, signs and symptoms of approaching death, loss and grief and bereavement support.

Can I be cared for by hospice if I reside in a nursing facility or other type of long-term care facility?

Hospice services can be provided to a terminally ill person wherever they live. This means a patient living in a nursing facility or long-term care facility can receive specialized visits from hospice nurses, home health aides, chaplains, social workers, and volunteers, in addition to other care and services provided by the nursing facility. The hospice and the nursing home will have a written agreement in place in order for the hospice to serve residents of the facility.

What happens if I cannot stay at home due to my increasing care need and require a different place to stay during my final phase of life?

A growing number of hospice programs have arrangements with freestanding hospice houses, hospitals or inpatient residential centers to care for patients who cannot stay where they usually live. These patients may require a different place to live during this phase of their life when they need extra care.  However, care in these settings is not covered under the Medicare or Medicaid Hospice Benefit. It is best to find out, well before hospice may be needed, if insurance or any other payer covers this type of care or if patients/families will be responsible for payment.

Do state and federal reviewers inspect and evaluate hospices?

Yes. There are state licensure requirements that must be met by hospice programs in order for them to deliver care. In addition, hospices must comply with federal regulations in order to be approved for reimbursement under Medicare. Hospices must periodically undergo inspection to be sure they are meeting regulatory standards in order to maintain their license to operate and the certification that permits Medicare reimbursement.

How can I be sure that quality hospice care is provided?

Many hospices use tools to let them see how well they are doing in relation to quality hospice standards. In addition, most programs use family satisfaction surveys to get feedback on the performance of their programs. To help hospice programs in making sure they give quality care and service, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has developed recommended standards entitled ‘Standards of Practice for Hospice Programs’ as one way of ensuring quality.

There are also voluntary accreditation organizations that evaluate hospice programs to protect consumers. These organizations survey hospices to see whether they are providing care that meets defined quality standards. These reviews consider the customary practices of the hospice, such as policies and procedures, medical records, personal records, evaluation studies, and in many cases also include visits to patients and families currently under care of that hospice program.  A hospice program may volunteer to obtain accreditation from one of these organizations.

What happens after my loved one dies?

Our goal is for a member of your care team to be present at the bedside at the time of death.  This team member will explain the stages of death, help make necessary phone calls, prepare the body and provide support to any family and/or friends who are present.  If a member of the team is not present they will arrive as soon as you inform us of the death.

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