What is hospice care and when should it begin?

Hospice is special end-of-life care for individuals with life-limiting illnesses. Hospice is a patient and family support service that keeps the patient comfortable, teaches the family to provide care, and offers emotional and spiritual support. Hospice is a type of care, rather than a specific place of care, that focuses on comfort rather than cure. The earlier a person is referred, the more Loving Hearts can do to help. Sadly, many people believe that hospice is unavailable or inappropriate until literally, the last days of a person’s life. Through hospice services, patients can enjoy a better quality of life.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is a treatment that focuses on relieving suffering and improving the quality of life for seriously ill patients and their families.

Is the decision for hospice care giving up hope or waiting to die?

No. Hospice is about living. Hospice strives to bring quality of life and comfort to a patient and their family. Our successes are in helping a patient and family live fully until the end. Often patients will feel better with effective pain and symptom management. Hospice is an experience of care and support, different from any other type of care.

How is hospice care paid for?

Hospice is covered 100% by Medicare, Medicaid, and by most private insurances. Loving Hearts has never turned a patient away due to inability to pay for hospice services.

Who pays for hospice care in a nursing home?

The Medicare Hospice Benefit allows hospice in nursing homes for eligible Medicare and Medicaid individuals, as long as a hospice and a nursing home have formed an agreement. In a nursing home, hospice is not financially responsible for the room and board charges.

Should I wait for my doctor to talk to me about hospice care or should I mention it to him/her?

The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their doctor, other health care professionals, clergy, or friends. Studies prove that hospice should be discussed before the need, which will ease anxiety. Most doctors know about hospice. If your doctor wants more information, it is available from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Helpline, 1-800-658-8898 or from Loving Hearts at 812-932-0641.

Does hospice provide 24 hour in-home care?

No. Hospice provides intermittent nursing visits to assess, monitor, and treat symptoms as well as teach family and caregivers the skills they need to care for the patient. Members of the Loving Hearts team are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer questions or visit anytime the need for support arises.

What specific assistance does hospice provide?

Loving Hearts patients are cared for by a team of Nurses, a Social Workers, a Bereavement Counselor, Hospice Aides, Chaplain, Volunteers, a Hospice Medical Director and a Nurse Practitioner. In addition, Loving Hearts provides medications, supplies, and equipment related to the terminal diagnosis.

How does hospice manage pain?

Loving Hearts believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so it can address each. Loving Hearts has an extremely high success rate in battling pain. Using some combinations of medications, counseling, and therapies, most patients can be kept pain free, comfortable, and peaceful. Loving Hearts Nurses will assess your pain and symptom control at each visit and Hospice Medical Director’s are always available.

Are all hospice agencies the same?

No. “Hospice” is a medical specialty like pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, etc. and each hospice is a different agency. All hospices have the same services, but their philosophies may differ. It is your right to request the hospice of your choice where more than one hospice serves your area.

If a primary physician or medical specialist recommends hospice, YOU as a patient or FAMILY MEMBER can choose which agency you want. BE SPECIFIC – and request Loving Hearts. Loving Hearts is available to anyone in Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio and Ripley counties.

Does hospice provide any help or support after the patient dies?

Yes. Loving Hearts provides continued contact and support to caregivers for 13 months following the death of a loved one. These services may include personal visits, information concerning the grief process, and opportunities for group support. Loving Hearts also sponsors Grief and Loss Support Groups and support for anyone in the community who has experienced a death of a family member, a friend, or similar losses.

Is there any special medical equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?

Loving Hearts will assess your needs, recommend any equipment, and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. In general, hospice will assist in any way it can to make home care as convenient, clean, and safe as possible.

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, Loving Hearts can occasionally provide crisis care during times of crisis for families. While family and friends do deliver most of the care, Loving Hearts can also provide volunteer support to assist with errands or to provide a break and time away for primary caregivers.

How many family members or friends does it take to care for a dying loved one at home?

There’s no set number. Loving Hearts will prepare an individualized Plan of Care that will, among other things, address the amount of caregiving needed for the patient. Loving Hearts staff visit regularly and are always accessible to answer medical questions, provide support, and teach caregivers.

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 child birth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the end-of-life process.

Is caring for the patient at home the only place hospice can be delivered?

No. Loving Hearts cares for the patient regardless of their residence. Although most of a hospice patient’s time is spent in a personal residence, patients also live in nursing homes, assisted living apartments, or a family’s home.

Is Loving Hearts affiliated with any hospital or religious organization?

No. While some hospitals, churches and religious groups have started hospices – Loving Hearts is privately owned and operated allowing us to make decisions on a patient-to-patient basis, providing only top quality care. Loving Hearts has Chaplains on staff to support individuals of any religious denomination.